Migratory Bird Program
Conserving the Nature of America


The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (text) (summary) makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal Canada Goose Credit: Tim Bowmanregulations. The migratory bird species protected by the Act are listed in 50 CFR 10.13. View the list of MBTA protected birds.

As authorized by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service issues permits to qualified applicants for the following types of activities: falconry, raptor propagation, scientific collecting, special purposes (rehabilitation, educational, migratory game bird propagation, and salvage), take of depredating birds, taxidermy, and waterfowl sale and disposal. Migratory bird permit policy is developed by the Division of Migratory Bird Management and the permits themselves are issued by the Regional Bird Permit Offices. The regulations governing migratory bird permits can be found in 50 CFR part 13 (General Permit Procedures) and 50 CFR part 21 (Migratory Bird Permits).

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The two species of eagles that are native to the United States have additional protection under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (text) (summary). Under the BGEPA, the Service issues permits to take, possess, and transport bald and golden eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus and Aquila chrysaetos) for scientific, educational, and Indian religious purposes, depredation, and falconry (golden eagles). Effective November 10, 2009, permits will also be available to take eagles in the course of conducting other lawful activities and to take eagle nests when necessary to protect human safety or the eagles. See http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/baldeagle.htm for more information on these new provisions.

No permit authorizes the sale, purchase, barter, trade, importation, or exportation of eagles, or their parts or feathers. The regulations governing eagle permits can be found in 50 CFR part 13 (General Permit Procedures) and 50 CFR part 22 (Eagle Permits).

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Non-eagle Feather Repositories

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established a non-eagle feather repository pilot program to provide federally enrolled Native Americans access to non-eagle migratory birds (e.g., hawks, falcons) for religious and cultural purposes. The pilot began in October 2010 and will be evaluated for two years.

Two facilities, the Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative (SIA) based in Cyril, Oklahoma, and Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona, have signed individual Memorandums of Agreement (MOA). These two repositories have been permitted by the Service to salvage and receive regulated migratory bird feathers, carcasses and parts to distribute them to federally enrolled Native Americans across the country. Wildlife rehabilitators, wildlife educators, zoos, museums, avian researchers, raptor propagators, and falconers in states that have adopted the new falconry regulations may transfer migratory bird carcasses, parts and feathers to either repository. For more information, http://www.fws.gov/southwest/NAL/feathers.html.

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Take of Migrant Peregrine Falcons for Use in Falconry.

The Division of Migratory Bird Management has published a Notice in the Federal Register that it has published a Final Environmental Assessment on take of migrant peregrine falcons for use in falconry.  The Division published a draft Environmental Assessment in 2007 and considered public and agency comments on the draft. In the final EA, the Service revised the alternatives and selected one that will allow take of 36 fall migrant peregrines east of 100 degrees longitude.  Allowing the take of migrants required that the Service revise the allowed take of nestling peregrines in the western U.S. The states will need to coordinate through the four U.S. flyways and the National Flyway Council to decide how to allocate the take of nestling and migrant peregrines.

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Revised Regulations for Falconry in the U.S.

We have published revised regulations that change a number of provisions for falconry in the United States.  After adoption of the regulations, a State, tribal, or territorial falconry permit will suffice for the practice of falconry.  We also will implement electronic reporting of acquisition, transfer, or loss of raptors held for falconry.

Because it will take time for States to change their falconry regulations to comply with the new regulations, the final compliance date for them is January 1, 2014.  The States will continue to operate under the current falconry regulations until they are certified to change to the new ones. Q&As Prior regulations

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Permits Conditions to Allow Use of Raptors for Abatement Activities.

We have published a Notice announcing finalized permit conditions to allow the use of raptors protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for commercial abatement activities. Abatement refers to the training and use of raptors to flush, haze, or take birds (or other wildlife where allowed) to mitigate depredation and nuisance problems, including human health and safety threats. Abatement is not falconry. We will authorize abatement under our Special Purpose permits (50 CFR 21.27). Migratory Bird Permit Memorandum; application form and fact sheet.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Permits Page    National Eagle Repository


Last updated: January 8, 2013