Eagle Take Permitting Streamlining USFWS Rule



Jon and SJ’s discussion of owls reminded me. of this proposed reg about eagles.

I don’t really understand too much about this proposed rule, but I do like what appears to be the capability of FWS to have already figured out that something they did in 2016 isn’t working and needs to be changed.. and they are changing it.  It also looks like “permitting reform.”

We propose amendments to these regulations to better align with the purpose and need described in the 2016 PEIS. In the 2016 Eagle Rule, the Service sought to:

(1) increase compliance by simplifying the permitting framework and increasing certainty;

(2) allow for consistent and efficient administration of the program by Service staff;

(3) regulate based on best available science and data; and

(4) enhance protection of eagles throughout their ranges by increasing implementation of avoidance, minimization, and mitigation of adverse impacts from human activities.

Since implementation of the 2016 Eagle Rule, it has become clear that the Service’s amended permitting structure did not fully achieve the goals of the 2016 PEIS. For bald eagles, populations have continued to grow. While this is good news in terms of preserving the species, it also means that bald eagles are interacting more often with human activities and infrastructure, resulting in a higher demand for permits authorizing the disturbance take and nest take of bald eagles. The current permit framework places an administrative burden on the public and the Service that is not commensurate with what is required to effectively preserve bald eagles. For golden eagles, a goal of the 2016 Eagle Rule was to increase compliance and improve consistency and efficiency relating to permitting golden eagle take at wind-energy projects. However, those goals have not been realized. While participation in the permit program by wind energy projects has increased since 2016, it still remains well below our expectations. Low application rates and permit-processing requirements that some have perceived as burdensome have resulted in few permits being issued for wind projects as compared to the number of operational wind projects in areas where golden eagles occur. As a result, golden eagles continue to be taken without implementation of conservation actions to offset that take.

The current permit framework places an administrative burden on the public and the Service that is not commensurate with what is required to effectively preserve bald eagles.

I think that’s probably true of many areas in the broad area of permitting.

Also perhaps someone could explain.. as to the golden eagles, are they saying that people are taking eagles without permits? Wouldn’t that require some enforcement action? Or is it too hard to figure out who is doing this?  Hopefully someone out there knows more about this.

I did find some news stories about the broader topic of wind farms and eagles, but not about these tweaks to the regs.

1 thought on “Eagle Take Permitting Streamlining USFWS Rule”

  1. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, here are the penalties for unpermitted taking of eagles: “A violation of the Act can result in a fine of $100,000 ($200,000 for organizations), imprisonment for one year, or both, for a first offense. Penalties increase substantially for additional offenses, and a second violation of this Act is a felony.” According to this article, “Although countless wind energy developers have submitted applications for eagle take permits over the years, only a handful of eagle permits have ever been issued in the last thirteen years since USFWS first authorized incidental take in 2009.” https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/u-s-fish-and-wildlife-service-makes-3809127/

    Enforcement is at the discretion of the government, and it sounds like they recognize they are part of the problem. The first regulations were in 2009, so the permitting process is fairly new in general, and the world of wind power and eagles (bald up, golden down) has been changing fairly quickly, so some kind of response to that makes sense to me, too.


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