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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228


May 18, 2006
Contact: Nicholas Throckmorton, 202/208-5636



The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has extended the deadline for the public to submit comments on proposed voluntary guidelines and a regulatory definition designed to help landowners and others understand how they can help ensure bald eagles continue to flourish. 

This extension also applies to the Service’s original 1999 proposal to remove the bald eagle from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Service has extended the public comment period in order to solicit current information regarding bald eagle populations and trends and to give the public more time to comment on the proposed delisting in light of the draft voluntary guidelines. 

In February of 2006, the Service announced in the Federal Register the availability of draft management guidelines for landowners and others to use as a tool to ensure bald eagle protection should it be delisted, along with a regulatory clarification of the term “disturb” under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA). 

Today there are an estimated 7,066 nesting pairs of bald eagles due to recovery efforts by the Service, other Federal agencies, Tribes, State and local governments, conservation organizations, universities, corporations and thousands of individual Americans.  Five regional recovery plans were created for the bald eagle.  The delisting criteria for all five plans were met or exceeded by the year 2000. 

The draft voluntary National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines are not Federal regulations.  They are intended to provide information for people who engage in recreational or land use activities on how to avoid impacts to eagles prohibited by BGEPA and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).  

The guidelines are crafted to reflect the current way Federal and State managers interpret BGEPA and the MBTA. For example, the guidelines recommend buffers around nests when conducting activities likely to disturb bald eagles.  These areas serve to screen nesting eagles from noise and visual distractions caused by human activities. 

The extended comment period also applies to the proposed regulation to clarify the term “disturb” under BGEPA to be consistent with existing Federal and State interpretation. Under the clarification, “disturb” would be defined as actions that disrupt the breeding, feeding or sheltering practices of an eagle, causing injury, death or nest abandonment. This is the standard the Service has used informally over the years and also how States have interpreted the statute. The proposed regulation defining “disturb” would codify this interpretation. This definition will provide clarity to the public while continuing protection for bald eagles, which will help ensure an almost seamless transition to delisting. 

Comments on the proposed delisting, draft National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines and draft definition of the term “disturb” must be received by June 19, 2006.

 .     Comments on the proposed delisting should be sent to Michelle Morgan, Chief, Branch of Recovery and Delisting, Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Headquarters Office, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 420, Arlington, Virginia 22203.  Comments on the proposed delisting may also be transmitted electronically at <>.
·     Comments on the draft National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines should be sent to Brian Millsap, Chief, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MBSP-4107, Arlington, Virginia   22203.  Comments on the draft guidelines

may also be transmitted electronically at <>.
·     Comments on the draft definition of the term “disturb” should be sent to Brian Millsap at the above address.  Comments on the definition of “disturb” may also be transmitted electronically at <>.
·     Alternatively, comments on any of the above three documents may also be transmitted electronically at the Federal Rulemaking Portal: <>.  Follow the instructions for submitting  comments. 

The  U.S.  Fish  and  Wildlife  Service  is  the  principal  Federal agency responsible  for  conserving,  protecting  and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants  and  their  habitats  for  the  continuing  benefit of the American people.  The  Service  manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands  and  other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish  hatcheries,  64  fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field  stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered  Species  Act,  manages  migratory  bird  populations,  restores nationally  significant  fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such  as  wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with  their  conservation  efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program,  which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies. 





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