Digest of Federal Resource Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940

Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940 (16 U.S.C. 668-668d, 54 Stat. 250) as amended -- Approved June 8, 1940, and amended by P.L 86-70 (73 Stat. 143) June 25, 1959; P.L. 87-884 (76 Stat. 1346) October 24, 1962; P.L. 92-535 (86 Stat. 1064) October 23, 1972; and P.L. 95-616 (92 Stat. 3114) November 8, 1978.

This law provides for the protection of the bald eagle (the national emblem) and the golden eagle by prohibiting, except under certain specified conditions, the taking, possession and commerce of such birds. The 1972 amendments increased penalties for violating provisions of the Act or regulations issued pursuant thereto and strengthened other enforcement measures. Rewards are provided for information leading to arrest and conviction for violation of the Act.

The 1978 amendment authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to permit the taking of golden eagle nests that interfere with resource development or recovery operations. (See also the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act.)

A 1994 Memorandum (59 F.R. 22953, April 29, 1994) from President William J. Clinton to the heads of Executive Agencies and Departments sets out the policy concerning collection and distribution of eagle feathers for Native American religious purposes.

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