[Federal Register: December 12, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 238)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 74483-74484]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 22

RIN 1018-AT94

Protection of Bald Eagles; Definition of ``Disturb''

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; reopening of the comment period; notice of 
availability: draft environmental assessment.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (we or us), reopen the 
comment period for our proposed rule, and announce the availability of 
a Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) evaluating the possible effects 
of defining ``disturb'' under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. 
We prepared the DEA as part of the National Environmental Policy Act 
process. The analysis of our preferred alternative is based on a 
definition slightly modified from our February, 2006 proposed 
rulemaking (71 FR 8265, February 16, 2006).

DATES: Send your comments on the proposed rule and/or DEA by January 
11, 2007.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain copies of the proposed rule and DEA by 
visiting our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/, at the 

address listed below. You may submit comments and other information, 
identified by RIN 1018-AT94, by any one of the following methods:
     Mail: Robert Blohm, Acting Chief, Division of Migratory 
Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, 
MBSP-4107, Arlington, Virginia 22203. Attn: RIN 1018-AT94.
     Hand Delivery/Courier: Same address as above.
     E-mail: BaldEagle_ProposedRule@fws.gov. Include ``RIN 
1018-AT94'' in the subject line of the message.
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 

Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
    For detailed instructions on submitting comments, see the ``Public 
Comments Invited'' heading at the end of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eliza Savage, Division of Migratory 
Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at 703-358-2329, or 
via e-mail at: Eliza_Savage@fws.gov.



    On February 16, 2006, we published in the Federal Register a 
proposed rule (71 FR 8265) to define ``disturb'' under the Bald and 
Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) (16 U.S.C. 668-668d). The proposed 
rule would add a definition for ``disturb'' to regulations at 50 CFR 
22.3. We proposed this action in anticipation of possible removal 
(delisting) of the bald eagle in the 48 contiguous States from the List 
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife under the Endangered Species Act 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). If the bald eagle is delisted, BGEPA will 
become the primary law protecting bald eagles. The purpose of the 
proposed rule is to define the term ``disturb'' in a manner consistent 
with the language and intent of the BGEPA and thereby provide a 
predictable standard to guide bald eagle management following 
    We opened a public comment period on the proposed rule until May 
17, 2006. On May 16, 2006, we published a notice to extend the comment 
period until June 19, 2006 (71 FR 28294).
    In the February 16, 2006, proposed rule, we stated that we would 
prepare an environmental assessment pursuant to the National 
Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) if warranted. We have 
prepared a draft environmental assessment (DEA), which we now make 
available for public comment. In the DEA, we considered four 
alternatives for the definition of ``disturb,'' as applied to bald 
eagles and golden eagles.
    Under Alternative 1, we would not define ``disturb.'' Disturbance 
would remain a prohibited act under the Bald and Golden Eagle 
Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668d), without further regulatory 
interpretation. Under Alternative 2, the definition of ``disturb'' 
would be based on immediate effects to individual birds. We would 
define ``disturb'' as having a direct effect, as evinced by immediate 
behavioral response on the part of a bald eagle or a golden eagle, 
without consideration for secondary, biologically significant events. 
Alternative 3 is to define ``disturb'' to encompass effects to 
individual birds while requiring a biological impact. Under this 
alternative, we would define ``disturb'' as ``to agitate or bother a 
bald or golden eagle to the degree that causes (i) injury or death to 
an eagle (including chicks or eggs) due to interference with normal 
breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior, or (ii) nest abandonment.'' 
This is the preferred alternative. It has been modified from our 
February, 2006 proposed rulemaking for purposes of clarification. 
Alternative 4 is to define disturb such that the disturbing action must 
be intentionally directed at eagles and cause injury or death.

Public Comments

    When submitting comments, please include your name and return 
address, and identify your comments as pertaining to RIN 1018-AT94. 
Submit comments by only one method; do not send duplicate submissions. 
We prefer that comments be submitted electronically. To facilitate our 
compilation of the Administrative Record for this action, if you send 
written comments, you must submit them on 8\1/2\ inch by 11 inch paper. 
Addresses are listed in the ADDRESSES section near the beginning of 
this document.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and addresses of 
respondents, available for public review by appointment during normal 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home addresses from the rulemaking record,

[[Page 74484]]

which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. Comments from 
organizations and businesses and from individuals officially 
representing organizations or businesses will be available for public 
inspection in their entirety. If you wish to view the files, please 
call 703-358-1714 to make an appointment.

    Dated: December 1, 2006.
David Verhey,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. E6-21139 Filed 12-11-06; 8:45 am]