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  Sunday September 21st, 2014    

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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
Service reopens comment period on removing the bald eagle from the Endangered Species Act (02/23/2006)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed voluntary guidelines and a regulatory definition designed to help landowners and others understand how they can help ensure that bald eagles continue to be protected consistent with existing law. The Service also reopened the public comment period on its original 1999 proposal to remove the bald eagle from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species, in order to solicit current information regarding bald eagle populations and trends and to give the public time to comment on the proposed delisting in light of the draft voluntary guidelines.

The Service is also proposing a regulation to clarify the term "disturb" under BGEPA that is consistent with existing Federal and State interpretation. Under the clarification, "disturb" would be defined as actions that disrupt the feeding or mating practices of an eagle or cause it to abandon its nest. This is the standard the Service has used informally over the years and how states have interpreted the statute. The proposed regulation defining "disturb" would codify it. This definition will provide clarity to the public while continuing protection for bald eagles, which will help ensure an almost seamless transition from ESA listing to delisting.

The bald eagle once ranged throughout every state in the Union except Hawaii. By 1963, only 417 nesting pairs were found in the lower 48. Since the delisting proposal in 1999, recovery of the bald eagle has continued to progress at an impressive rate. In 2000, the last year a national bald eagle census was conducted, there were an estimated 6471 nesting pairs of bald eagles.

Today this number has risen to an estimated 7,066 nesting pairs, due to recovery efforts by the Service, other federal agencies, tribes, state and local governments. A draft monitoring plan is expected to be released for public comment should the species be delisted. If at any time it becomes evident that the bald eagle again needs the Act's protection, the Service will propose to relist the species.

The bald eagle first gained federal protection in 1940, when Congress passed the predecessor to the Bald Eagle Protection Act. The Act, which was later amended to include golden eagles, increased public awareness of the bald eagle. Soon after, populations stabilized or increased in most areas of the country. However, declines in its numbers during later decades caused the bald eagle to be protected in 1967 under the Federal law preceding the current Endangered Species Act.

The Service's re-opening of the public comment period on the proposed delisting, the draft National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines and the proposed definition of term "disturb" will be published in the Federal Register.

· Comments on the proposed delisting must be received 90 days from the Federal Register publication date. Written comments should be sent to Michelle Morgan, Chief, Branch of Recovery and Delisting, Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Headquarters Office, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 420, Arlington, Virginia 22203. Comments on the proposed delisting may also be transmitted electronically at .

· Comments on the draft National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines must be received 90 days from the publication date. Written comments should be sent to Brian Millsap, Chief, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MBSP-4107, Arlington, Virginia 22203. Comments on the draft guidelines may also be transmitted electronically at .

· Comments on the draft definition of the term "disturb" must be received 90 days from the Federal Register publication date. Written comments should be sent to Brian Millsap at the above address. Comments on the definition of "disturb" may also be transmitted electronically at .

· Alternatively, comments on any of the above three documents may also be transmitted electronically at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: . Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

 

 

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