About this Collection
Forty years ago, our national symbol was in danger of extinction throughout most of its range. Habitat destruction and degradation, illegal shooting, and the contamination of its food source, largely as a consequence of DDT, decimated the eagle population. Habitat protection afforded by the Endangered Species Act, the federal government’s banning of DDT, and conservation actions taken by the American public have helped bald eagles make a remarkable recovery. Bald Eagles were removed from the endangered species list in August 2007 because their populations recovered sufficiently. Both bald eagles and golden eagles are still protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).
Bald Eagle Population
The Bald Eagle Population Size Report: 2020 Update is the most current population estimate of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. The bald eagle population climbed to an estimated 316,700 individual bald eagles, including 71,400 nesting pairs. This estimate shows that the bald eagle population has quadrupled since the last set of data was collected in 2009.
As part of implementing and enforcing these laws, the Service monitors the health of bald and golden eagles. The Service published a report titled: Update of bald eagle take limits for the Atlantic, Central, Mississippi, and Northern Pacific Eagle Management Units. This report is a technical update of the scientific information for bald eagles published in the Service’s Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), which was finalized in December 2016. In the PEIS, the Service committed to updating population size estimates and take limits for both bald and golden eagles no less than once every six years.
Updated Eagle Nest Survey Guidance
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced new guidance regarding eagle nest survey areas. The updated recommendation is to conduct field surveys for eagle nests only within 2 miles around the project footprint. This guidance supersedes the recommendations in the Service's 2013 Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance.
Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Compensatory Mitigation Programs
The Eagle Protection and Offset Program (EPOP) is authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to sell compensatory mitigation credits for bald and golden eagle take. The EPOP is currently one of two third party mitigation banking options available specific to eagles and authorized by USFWS to offset incidental take. (Note: USFWS authorization of the EPOP does not constitute blanket endorsement of its parent company.)
The Bald Eagle And Golden Eagle Electrocution Prevention In-lieu Fee Program (Eagle ILF Program) is authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to sell compensatory mitigation credits for bald and golden eagle take. The Eagle ILF Program is currently one of two third-party mitigation banking options available specific to eagles and authorized by USFWS to offset incidental take. (Note: USFWS authorization of the Eagle ILF Program does not constitute blanket endorsement of Eagle Electrocution Solutions, LLC, or its parent company.)
Guidance and Tools
The National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines were developed by the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service to advise landowners, land managers, and others who share public and private lands with bald eagles about when and under what circumstances the protective provisions of the Eagle Act may apply to their activities. The Guidelines are intended to help people minimize such impacts to bald eagles, particularly where they may constitute "disturbance" which is prohibited by the Eagle Act.
The Eagle Incidental Take Permit Questions and Answers addresses frequently asked questions about Eagle Incidental Take Permits.
The Eagle Nest Take Frequently Asked Questions provides information about the Eagle Nest Take Permit (3-200-72).
The Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance provides specific in-depth guidance for conserving Bald and Golden Eagles in the course of siting, construction and operation of wind energy facilities.
The Updated Collision Risk Model Priors for Estimating Eagle Fatalities at Wind Energy Facilities was published in the Federal Register on May 6, 2021 and formally announced our adoption of updated species-specific eagle exposure and collision probabilities used to generate fatality estimates for consideration in issuing eagle incidental take permits to wind-energy facilities under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. This action will improve our ability to carry out our statutory responsibility to ensure conservation of bald eagles and golden eagles when issuing those permits.
The Resource Equivalency Analysis Tools have been developed for calculating the compensatory mitigation needed to offset permitted take (via direct mortality, disturbance, or territory loss) using power pole retrofits. The Resource Equivalency Analysis outputs estimate the number of high-risk poles that would need to be retrofitted per eagle taken. For golden eagles, there is a regulatory requirement for a mitigation ratio of 1.2:1. The Resource Equivalency Analysis tools can be downloaded by clicking on the following links:
The Resource Equivalency Analysis is based on the current understanding of golden eagle and bald eagle life history inputs, effectiveness of retrofitting high‐risk electric power poles, the expected annual take, and the timing of both the eagle take permit and implementation of compensatory mitigation. As would be expected, the estimated number of eagle fatalities and the permit renewal period affect the number of poles to be retrofitted. Delays in retrofitting would lead to more retrofitted poles owed. New information on changes in the level of take, understanding of the eagle life history, or effectiveness of retrofitting could be used to change the number of retrofitted poles needed for compensation. Finally, while only electric pole retrofitting is presented here in detail, the Resource Equivalency Analysis metric of bird‐years lends itself to consideration of other compensatory mitigation options.
Eagle Incidental Take Permit Regulations
On December 14, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a final rule revising the regulations for permits for incidental take of eagles and take of eagle nests. The Service analyzed various alternative management options and rule revisions, including the final rule revisions, in a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS).
Among other revisions, the final rule addresses criteria for permit issuance, compensatory mitigation requirements, permit duration, and data standards for submitting permit applications.
- Final Eagle Incidental Take and Eagle Nest Take Regulations
- Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement
- Record of Decision
- Questions and Answers about Implementing the Revised Eagle Incidental Take Permit Regulations
For more information, these documents are also available on www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–R9–MB–2011–0094.
Eagle Incidental Take Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
On September 14, 2021, the Service published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to solicit public input and feedback on potential approaches to improve permitting of incidental take of eagles. The Service’s intent for both bald and golden eagles is to ensure that the regulations for these permits are consistent with the goal of maintaining stable or increasing breeding populations. The notice is available at www.regulations.gov at docket Number: Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2020-0023. Public comments were due by October 29, 2021 and the Service is now reviewing those comments.