Bald Eagle Information
On August 8, 2007, the Bald eagle was removed from the List of Threatened and Endangered Species and is no longer protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA); however, it remains protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Under BGEPA, the birds have habitat management guidelines similar to the previous guidelines under ESA. The main difference is the protective buffers around the Bald eagle nest tree are smaller than they were under ESA.
Since the birds are no longer protected under the ESA, the USFWS’ Division of Migratory Birds now manages this species instead of the Endangered Species Program. The USFWS’ Southeast Region’s Migratory Bird Program, located in Atlanta, Georgia, with the assistance of the South Carolina Field Office provide technical assistance for Bald eagles in South Carolina. For any activity occurring within 660 feet of a Bald eagle nest, please review the National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines to determine if the activity will disturb nesting Bald eagles even if the activity will occur outside of nesting season. A take permit, which is issued under BGEPA, is needed to authorize disturbance for any activity that cannot follow the guidelines to minimize disturbance.
The continued protection of Bald eagle habitat and nesting territories is important because the nesting territories can last for decades. If something happens to the eagles’ nest tree (i.e., struck by lightning or loss of a limb that supports the nest), then they need to be able to find another suitable nest tree within their territory. Bald eagles mate for life, but if one of the birds dies, the remaining mate will recruit in a new mate and the territory will continue to be occupied. In South Carolina, the Bald eagle nesting season is October 1 through May 15.