Of all America’s wildlife, eagles hold perhaps the most revered place in our national history and culture. The United States has long imposed special protections for its bald and golden eagle populations. Now, as the nation seeks to increase its production of domestic energy, wind energy developers and wildlife agencies have recognized a need for specific guidance to help make wind energy facilities compatible with eagle conservation and the laws and regulations that protect eagles.
To meet this need, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has developed the Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance (ECPG). This document provides specific in‐depth guidance for conserving bald and golden eagles in the course of siting, constructing, and operating wind energy facilities. The ECPG guidance supplements the Service’s Land‐Based Wind Energy Guidelines (WEG). WEG provides a broad overview of wildlife considerations for siting and operating wind energy facilities, but does not address the in‐depth guidance needed for the specific legal protections afforded to bald and golden eagles.
The ECPG fills this gap. Like the WEG, the ECPG calls for wind project developers to take a staged approach to siting new projects. Both call for preliminary landscape‐level assessments to assess potential wildlife interactions and proceed to site‐specific surveys and risk assessments prior to construction. They also call for monitoring project operations and reporting eagle fatalities to the Service and state and tribal wildlife agencies.
Compliance with the ECPG is voluntary, but the Service believes that following the guidance will help project operators in complying with regulatory requirements and avoiding the unintentional “take” of eagles at wind energy facilities, and will also assist the wind energy industry in providing the biological data needed to support permit applications for facilities that may pose a risk to eagles.