The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposes substantial revisions to regulations implementing the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of eagle take permitting. The proposed rule introduces a streamlined, self-certifying General Permit applicable to qualifying wind energy and power line projects, bald eagle breeding disturbances and nest takes, and certain other circumstances.
IF FINALIZED AS PROPOSED:
- New permit type: General Permits with streamlined processing
- Self-certifying five-year General Permits for qualifying projects and activities
- Built-in mitigation fees under General Permits
- General Permits may not require collection of project-specific eagle count data
- Developers not required to have third-party mortality monitoring under the General Permit
- USFWS will audit projects with General Permits for compliance
- No automatic 5-year check-ins for long-term permits
- New allowed reason for bald eagle nest take
- Revised definitions for “eagle nest” and “in-use nest”
- New explicit definition for “incidental take”
What’s Not Changing
- Specific Permit is comparable to the current permitting process
- Preservation standard of stable to increasing populations of both species
- Take limits and compensatory mitigation based on Eagle Management Units and Local Area Populations
- 30-year maximum duration for Specific Permits
- Golden eagle take limit is zero, unless mitigated at a ratio of 1.2 to 1
- Alternate (unused) eagle nests remain protected
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
The USFWS seeks to increase the number of projects with Eagle Act permits and produce more conservation benefits for eagles. The estimated bald eagle population has increased four-fold since 2016, meaning more projects may be exposed to the risk of an eagle take or nest take. The golden eagle population appears to be relatively stable, but USFWS remains concerned about the effect of human-caused mortality. USFWS will continue to restrict take of golden eagles in certain areas and seek compensatory mitigation for all permitted takes.
LEARN MORE & GET INVOLVED
- Learn more about the proposed changes to the Eagle Act regulations at: https://www.fws.gov/regulations/eagle
- Public information sessions via webinar will be held on October 20 and November 3.
- Submit comments through November 29, 2022, on www.regulations.gov under Docket Number FWS-HQ-MB-2020-0023.
SWCA CAN HELP
SWCA’s eagle experts and permitting specialists can help you evaluate if an eagle permit may be warranted, navigate current permit procedures, identify appropriate eagle conservation measures, and understand the proposed changes to Eagle Act permitting regulations.