Ecological Services
Northeast Region
National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines More Resources

National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines

A PDF of the Bald Eagle Management Guidelines is available here (pdf - 147KB).

The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is protected from harmful action and impacts by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (pdf - 13KB) (Eagle Act) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines help people to minimize impacts to bald eagles, particularly where they may constitute "disturbance," which is prohibited by the Eagle Act. A variety of human activities can potentially disturb bald eagles, affecting their ability to forage, nest, roost, breed or raise young.

Liability under the Eagle Act and the MBTA

The Service strongly encourages adherence to these guidelines to ensure that bald and golden eagle populations will continue to be healthy . The Service realizes there may be impacts to some birds even if all reasonable measures are taken to avoid such impacts.

Though it is not possible to absolve individuals and entities from liability under the Eagle Act or the MBTA, the Service exercises enforcement discretion to focus on those individuals, companies or agencies that take migratory birds without implementing appropriate measures recommended by the Guidelines.

Permits under the Eagle Act

The Service completed updated permit requirements in 2009 and has made a PDF (275KB) of those requirements available.

The Guidelines are applicable throughout the United States, including Alaska. The primary purpose of these Guidelines is to provide information that will minimize or prevent violations only of Federal laws governing bald eagles. A permit under 50 CFR 22.26 or 22.27 will be required if you are unable to minimize or prevent disturbance of bald or golden eagles. We recommend that you contact your nearest U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service field office to discuss obtaining a permit.

More about legal protections for the bald eagle

Bald Eagle Management Guidelines

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Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act

National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines

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Management at a Glance

Two factors most influence an eagle's response to human activity:

  1. The activity's visibility from the eagle nest and;
  2. The regular occurrence of similar activities near the nest.

General recommendations to avoid disturbing nesting bald eagles:

  1. Keep distance between the activity and the nest (distance buffers).
  2. Maintain forested or natural areas between the activity and the nest tree (landscape buffers).
  3. Avoid certain activities during the nesting season (timing buffers).

Last updated: April 20, 2020