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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers streamlining permits for incidental take of eagles


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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is soliciting public input regarding potential changes to their policy for permitting the incidental take of bald and golden eagles.

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act prohibits any take of bald eagles and golden eagles, except as permitted by federal regulations. Pursuant to regulations, “take” is defined as to pursue, shoot, shoot at, kill, capture, trap, molest, or disturb (50 CFR 22.3). Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to issue regulations that permit the taking of eagles for various purposes, as long as such take is compatible with the preservation of the eagle.

The USFWS published rules regarding eagle incidental take in 2009 and revised them in 2016. The potential changes announced this week aim to streamline the current permitting framework. The agency is soliciting comments on how best to achieve this aim, and is specifically interested in feedback that answers several questions posed in the Federal Register notice:

1. Are there specific protocols, processes, requirements, or other aspects of the current permitting process for incidental take of eagles that hinder permit application, processing, or implementation? 

2. What additional guidance, protocols, analyses, tools, or other efficiencies could the Service develop that would reduce the time and/or cost associated with applying for, implementing, and conducting monitoring associated with long-term permits for incidental take of eagles under existing regulations? What are the estimated costs of the suggested additional efficiencies, and how do those costs compare to industry’s current practices? 

3. What targeted revisions could be made to existing regulations consistent with the overall permitting framework and PEIS that would reduce the time and/or cost associated with applying for and processing long-term permits for incidental take of eagles? 

4. Are there potential new regulatory approaches to authorizing incidental take under the Eagle Act, particularly for projects that can be shown in advance to have minimal impacts on eagles, that would reduce the time and/or cost associated with applying for and operating under long-term permits for incidental take of eagles? 

Comments will be accepted for until Oct. 29 and can be submitted here.

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USFWS Press Release

Public Comments Sought by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Improving Incidental Take Permit Process for Bald and Golden Eagles

September 13, 2021

Contact(s): Vanessa Kauffman (703-358-2138, vanessa_kauffman@fws.gov)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking public input on potential approaches to improve the permitting of incidental take of bald and golden eagles. The bald eagle’s recovery is one of the United States’ most important wildlife conservation success stories. The Service’s intent for both bald and golden eagles is to ensure that the regulations for these permits are consistent with the goal of maintaining stable or increasing breeding populations.

“As the nation moves to build back better, the Service and the regulated community share an interest in introducing greater efficiency and predictability into the eagle incidental take permitting process, while ensuring stable or increasing breeding populations of bald and golden eagles,” said Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon A. Estenoz. “We are soliciting public input and feedback on potential approaches to make the permitting process more effective and efficient.”

Human development and infrastructure continue to expand in the United States and, at the same time, bald eagle populations are growing throughout their range. The result of these trends is an increasing number of interactions between eagles and industrial infrastructure and a corresponding need for the Service to process more applications for incidental take of eagles.

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act) prohibits the harm and possession of bald and golden eagles and their parts, nests or eggs, except pursuant to federal regulations. The Eagle Act also authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to issue regulations to permit the taking of eagles for various purposes, provided the taking is compatible with the preservation of the bald eagle or the golden eagle.

Permits for the incidental, or unintentional, take of eagles were first established in 2009 and revised in 2016 to authorize incidental take of bald and golden eagles that results from a broad spectrum of activities, such as utility infrastructure, energy development, residential and commercial construction and resource recovery.

The Service is now publishing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to solicit public input and feedback on potential approaches to improve permitting of incidental take of eagles. The ANPR will publish in the Federal Register on September 14, 2021, opening a 45-day public comment period until October 29, 2021.

The notice will be available at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket Number: Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2020-0023 and will include details on how to submit your comments.

The ANPR seeks public comment on a number of approaches that could potentially reinforce a more streamlined permitting framework. We seek a variety of information in a number of areas including, but not limited to: What additional guidance, tools or other efficiencies could the Service develop that would reduce the time and/or cost associated with applying for and implementing long-term eagle incidental take permits under existing regulations? Are there potential new regulatory approaches to authorizing incidental take under the Eagle Act, particularly for projects that can be shown in advance to confer minimal impacts to eagles, that would reduce the time and/or cost associated with applying for and operating under long-term eagle incidental take permits? A complete list of details the Service is seeking can be found in the notice.

We will not accept hand-delivered, emailed or faxed comments. We will post all comments on https://www.regulations.gov.

The notice also advises the public that the Service may, as a result of public input, prepare a draft environmental review pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.

More information can be found online at: https://www.fws.gov/birds/management/managed-species/eagle-management.php

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