Proposal to Permit Take Provided Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act


Title: Proposal to Permit Take Provided Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act
Authors: Gould, R.
Publication Date:
April 01, 2009
Document Number: 1018-AY30
Pages: 210
Technology Type:

Document Access

Website: External Link


Gould, R. (2009). Proposal to Permit Take Provided Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Report by US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). pp 210.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has removed the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) from the list of threatened and endangered species under the Federal Endangered Species Act in all areas except the range of the Sonoran Desert bald eagle population, which remains protected as a threatened species. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act) remains as the primary law protecting bald eagles in other parts of its range and the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).


  • The Eagle Act authorizes the Secretary to permit take of eagles “necessary for the protection of … other interests in any particular locality.” In addition, there may be instances where take of eagle nests is necessary to protect public safety and welfare. 


  • In this assessment we consider three alternatives for regulations establishing new take permits under the Eagle Act, and authorizing take of eagle nests where necessary to protect public safety and welfare.


  • The assessment looks at potential impacts that could result from the implementation of the proposed regulation or alternatives to the proposed regulation within the context of other take already authorized or otherwise occurring.


  • This assessment also summarizes the biological foundation for defining take thresholds for bald eagles and golden eagles. Under the preferred alternative, the Service will define thresholds for take by adapting a published model used in other recent raptor regulations. The thresholds will guide annual take limits on a regional basis to ensure that we are consistent with the goal of stable or increasing breeding populations.  


  • The majority of authorized take will be non-lethal and will simply allow activities to disturb eagles in a way that will result in a loss or reduction of one year’s productivity by a nesting pair.


  • On-the-ground information and conditions will guide the actual amount of take authorized, which may be less than modeled, as long as the total does not exceed the modeled thresholds.


  • Except for safety emergencies, the rule will give priority in permitting to Native American use for rites and ceremonies that require eagles be taken from the wild if requests for permits will likely approach the annual threshold. The next permit priorities will be for activities necessary to ensure public health and safety, renewal of programmatic nest-take permits, and Non-emergency activities necessary to ensure public health and safety, and (for inactive golden eagle nests only) resource development or recovery operations (§ 22.25).


  • The Service’s preferred alternative, number 3, will: (1) authorize disturbance take of eagles; (2) authorize removal of eagle nests where necessary to protect public health and safety; and (3) provide for permits for take resulting in mortality in some limited circumstances. It will authorize take permits for both bald eagles and golden eagles.


  • Alternative 3 is also the environmentally-preferred alternative. It is expected to have the least adverse impact on the human environment, with negligible effects on the natural and physical environment and the least adverse impact along with the most beneficial impacts to the socioeconomic environment.


  • The criteria for issuance of permits would initially limit their issuance to only 5% of the Maximum Sustainable Yield for bald eagles, which is consistent with the recommendations in published literature for take of raptors where population monitoring may be limited or there are concerns about the vital rates for a species.


  • The best available data we have for golden eagles indicate modest declines in the four BCRs that constitute 80 percent of its range in the lower 48 states. Estimates of population size in Alaska are coarse, based upon even fewer data sources than in the lower 48 states, and juvenile survival may be far lower, so management would therefore need to be conservative. In addition, McIntyre et al. (2008) suggested that conservation strategies for migratory golden eagles require a continental approach. Therefore, until we have additional data to show that populations can withstand additional take, of those authorized under the new rule, we will only consider issuance of permits for safety emergencies and programmatic and other permits that will result in a net reduction in take or a net take of zero for golden eagles. We will continue to issue historically-authorized take permits under existing permit types at the level of take carried out under those permits (average over 2000-2007).
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