[Federal Register: July 6, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 128)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 36453-36464]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 36453]]


Part III

Department of the Interior


Fish and Wildlife Service


50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Rule To Remove 
the Bald Eagle in the Lower 48 States From the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife; Proposed Rule

[[Page 36454]]


Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AF21

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Rule To 
Remove the Bald Eagle in the Lower 48 States From the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service), propose to 
remove the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), from the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in the lower 48 States of the United 
States. We propose this action because the available data indicate that 
this species has recovered. The recovery is due in part to habitat 
protection and management actions initiated under the Endangered 
Species Act. It is also due to reduction in levels of persistent 
organochlorine pesticides such as DDT occurring in the environment. 
Section 4(g) of the Act requires the Service to monitor recovered 
species for at least 5 years following delisting. This rule describes 
our proposed post-delisting monitoring plan for bald eagles. Removal of 
the bald eagle as a threatened species under the Act will not affect 
the protection provided under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, 
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and many other state laws.

DATES: Comments from all interested parties concerning the proposal to 
delist the bald eagle in the lower 48 States must be received by 
October 5, 1999. Public hearing requests must be received by August 20, 
    Comments from all interested parties on the collection of 
information from the public during the 5-year monitoring period will be 
considered if received on or before September 7, 1999. The Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) has up to 60 days to approve or disapprove 
information collection but may respond after 30 days. Therefore, to 
ensure maximum consideration, your comments should be received by OMB 
by August 5, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments and other information concerning the 
proposal to delist the bald eagle in the lower 48 States to: Jody 
Gustitus Millar, Bald Eagle Recovery Coordinator, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 4469-48th Avenue Court, Rock Island, IL 61201 or 
comments may be sent through our web site at www.fws.gov/r3pao/eagle.
    Also send your comments and suggestions on specific information 
collection requirements to Rebecca Mullin, Service Information 
Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS 224 
ARLSQ, 1849 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20240.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jody Gustitus Millar, Bald Eagle 
Recovery Coordinator at the above address, telephone 309/793-5800 ext. 
524, or refer to our website at www.fws.gov/r3pao/eagle.



    The bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, is well known as our 
Nation's symbol. Its large and powerful appearance is distinguished by 
its white head and tail contrasting against its dark brown body. Though 
once endangered, the bald eagle population in the lower 48 States has 
increased considerably in recent years. Regional bald eagle populations 
in the northwest, Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, and Florida have 
increased 5-fold in the past 20 years. Bald eagles are now repopulating 
areas throughout much of the species' historic range that were 
unoccupied only a few years ago.

    Note: Unless otherwise noted with specific citations, the 
following life history information is derived from our 5 recovery 
plans for the bald eagle and from Gerrard and Bortolotti (1988), see 

    The bald eagle ranges throughout much of North America, nesting on 
both coasts from Florida to Baja California, Mexico in the south, and 
from Labrador to the western Aleutian Islands, Alaska in the north. The 
earliest known record of a bald eagle comes from a cave in Colorado. 
Deposits from that cave are dated at 670,000 to 780,000 years old (Dr. 
Steve Emslie, University of North Carolina, pers. comm. 1998). An 
estimated quarter to a half million bald eagles lived on the North 
American continent before the first Europeans arrived.
    Haliaeetus leucocephalus (literally, sea eagle with a white head) 
is the only species of sea eagle native to North America. It was first 
described in 1766 as Falco leucocephalus by Linnaeus. This South 
Carolina specimen was later renamed as the southern bald eagle, 
subspecies Haliaeetus leucocephalus leucocephalus (Linnaeus) when 
Townsend identified the northern bald eagle as Haliaeetus leucocephalus 
alascanus in 1897 (Peters 1979). By the time the bald eagle was listed 
throughout the lower 48 States under the Endangered Species Act in 
1978, the subspecies were no longer recognized by ornithologists 
(American Ornithologists Union 1983).
    The bald eagle is a bird of aquatic ecosystems. It frequents 
estuaries, large lakes, reservoirs, major rivers, and some seacoast 
habitats. Fish is the major component of its diet, but waterfowl, 
seagulls, and carrion are also eaten. The species may also use prairies 
if adequate food is available. Bald eagle habitats encompass both 
public and private lands.
    Bald eagles usually nest in trees near water, but are known to nest 
on cliffs and (rarely) on the ground. Nest sites are usually in large 
trees along shorelines in relatively remote areas that are free of 
disturbance. The trees must be sturdy and open to support a nest that 
is often 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep. Adults tend to use the same 
breeding areas year after year, and often the same nest, though a 
breeding area may include one or more alternate nests. A 35-year old 
nest at Vermilion, Ohio, measured 8\1/2\ feet across at the top and 12 
feet deep before it blew down in 1925 (Herrick 1932). In winter, bald 
eagles often congregate at specific wintering sites that are generally 
close to open water and offer good perch trees and night roosts.
    Bald eagles are long-lived. The longest living bald eagle known in 
the wild was reported near Haines, Alaska as 28 years old (Schempf 
1997). Bald eagles from Arizona are known to have exceeded 12 years of 
age (Hunt et al. 1992). In captivity, bald eagles may live 40 or more 
    It is presumed that once they mate, the bond is long-term, though 
documentation is limited. Variations in pair bonding are known to 
occur. If one mate dies or disappears, the other will accept a new 
partner. The female bald eagle usually weighs 10 to 14 pounds in the 
northern sections of the continent and is larger than the male, which 
weighs 8 to 10 pounds. The wings span 6 to 7 feet. The northern birds 
are larger and heavier than southern birds, with the largest birds in 
Alaska and Canada, and the smallest in Arizona or Florida.
    Bald eagle pairs begin courtship about a month before egg-laying. 
In the south, courtship occurs as early as September, and in the north, 
as late as May. The nesting season lasts about 6 months. Incubation 
lasts approximately 35 days and fledging takes place at 11 to 12 weeks 
of age. Parental care may extend 4 to 11 weeks after fledging (Wood, 
Collopy, and Sekerak 1998). The fledgling bald eagle is generally dark 
brown except the underwing linings which are primarily white. Between 
fledging and adulthood, the bald eagle's

[[Page 36455]]

appearance changes with feather replacement each summer. Young dark 
bald eagles may be confused with the golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos. 
The bald eagle's distinctive white head and tail are not apparent until 
the bird fully matures, at 4 to 5 years of age.
    As they leave their breeding areas, some bald eagles stay in the 
general vicinity while most migrate for several months and hundreds of 
miles to their wintering grounds. Young eagles may wander randomly for 
years before returning to nest in natal areas.
    Northern bald eagles winter in areas such as the Upper Mississippi 
River, Great Lakes shorelines and river mouths in the Great Lakes area. 
For mid-continent bald eagles, wintering grounds may be the southern 
States, and for southern bald eagles, whose nesting occurs during the 
winter months, the non-breeding season foraging areas may be Chesapeake 
Bay or Yellowstone National Park during the summer. Eagles seek 
wintering (non-nesting) areas offering an abundant and readily 
available food supply with suitable night roosts. Night roosts 
typically offer isolation and thermal protection from winds. Carrion 
and easily scavenged prey provide important sources of winter food in 
terrestrial habitats far from open water.
    The first major decline in the bald eagle population probably began 
in the mid to late 1800s. Widespread shooting for feathers and trophies 
led to extirpation of eagles in some areas. Shooting also reduced part 
of the bald eagle's prey base. Big game animals like bison, which were 
seasonally important to eagles as carrion, were decimated. Waterfowl, 
shorebirds and small mammals were also reduced in numbers. Carrion 
treated with strychnine, thallium sulfate and other poisons were used 
as bait to kill livestock predators and ultimately killed many eagles 
as well. These were the major factors, in addition to loss of nesting 
habitat from forest clearing and development, that contributed to a 
reduction in bald eagle numbers through the 1940s.
    In 1940, the Bald Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668d) was 
passed. This law prohibits the take, possession, sale, purchase, 
barter, or offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or 
import, of any bald eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or 
egg, unless allowed by permit (16 U.S.C. 668(a)). ``Take'' includes 
pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, 
molest or disturb (16 U.S.C. 668c; 50 CFR 22.3). The Bald Eagle 
Protection Act and increased public awareness of the bald eagle's 
status resulted in partial recovery or at least a slower rate of 
decline of the species in most areas of the country.
    In the late 1940s, shortly after World War II, the use of dichloro-
diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) and other organochlorine compounds 
became widespread. Initially, DDT was sprayed extensively along coastal 
and other wetland areas to control mosquitos (Carson 1962). Later it 
was used as a general crop insecticide. As DDT accumulated in 
individual bald eagles from ingesting prey containing DDT and its 
metabolites, reproductive success plummeted. In the late 1960s and 
early 1970s, it was determined that dichlorophenyl-dichloroethylene 
(DDE), the principal breakdown product of DDT, accumulated in the fatty 
tissues of the adult female bald eagles. DDE impaired calcium release 
necessary for normal egg shell formation, resulting in thin shells and 
reproductive failure.
    In response to this decline, the Secretary of the Interior, on 
March 11, 1967 (32 FR 4001), listed bald eagles south of the 40th 
parallel as endangered under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 
1966 (16 U.S.C. 668aa-668cc). Bald eagles north of this line were not 
included in that action primarily because the Alaskan and Canadian 
populations were not considered endangered in 1967. On December 31, 
1972, DDT was banned from use in the United States by the Environmental 
Protection Agency. The following year, the Endangered Species Act of 
1973 (the Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544) was passed.
    Nationwide bald eagle surveys, conducted in 1973 and 1974 by us, 
other cooperating agencies, and conservation organizations, revealed 
that the eagle population throughout the lower 48 States was declining. 
We responded in 1978 by listing the bald eagle, Haliaeetus 
leucocephalus, throughout the lower 48 States as endangered except in 
Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington, and Oregon, where it was 
designated as threatened (43 FR 6233, February 14, 1978). Sub-specific 
designations for northern and southern eagles were dropped.
    The Act contains provisions for listing, protection, and recovery 
of imperiled species. An endangered species is defined under the Act as 
a species that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range. A threatened species is defined as 
any species that is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable 
future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The Act 
and its implementing regulations prohibit the take of any listed 
species. Take is defined as harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, 
kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt any of these acts. It 
also prohibits shipment in interstate commerce in the course of 
commercial activity, or sale or offer for sale in interstate or foreign 
commerce. The Act requires review of all activities funded, permitted 
or conducted by Federal agencies to consider impacts to endangered and 
or threatened species. The purpose of the Act is to restore endangered 
and threatened animals and plants to the point where they are again 
viable, self-sustaining components of their ecosystems.
    To facilitate the recovery of the bald eagle and the ecosystems 
upon which it depends, we divided the lower 48 States into 5 recovery 
regions. Separate recovery teams composed of experts in each geographic 
area prepared recovery plans for their region. The teams established 
goals for recovery and identified tasks to achieve those goals. 
Coordination meetings were held regularly among the 5 teams to exchange 
data and other information.

What Are the Five Recovery Regions Established for the Bald Eagle 
and the Dates of Their Approved Recovery Plans?

                                 Date of recovery
        Recovery region                plan                States
Chesapeake Bay................  1982, rev. 1990..  Virginia east of the
                                                    Blue Ridge
                                                    Mountains, Delaware,
                                                    Maryland, the
                                                    eastern half of
                                                    Pennsylvania, the
                                                    ``panhandle'' of
                                                    West Virginia, and
                                                    the southern two-
                                                    thirds of New
Pacific.......................  1986.............  Idaho, Nevada,
                                                    California, Oregon,
                                                    Washington, Montana,
                                                    and Wyoming.
Southeastern..................  1984, rev. 1989..  Alabama, Arkansas,
                                                    Florida, Georgia,
                                                    Kentucky, Louisiana,
                                                    Mississippi, North
                                                    Carolina, South
                                                    Carolina, Tennessee,
                                                    and eastern Texas.

[[Page 36456]]

Southwestern..................  1982.............  Oklahoma and Texas
                                                    west of the 100th
                                                    meridian, New
                                                    Mexico, Arizona, and
                                                    that area of
                                                    California bordering
                                                    the Lower Colorado
Northern States...............  1983.............  All remaining 25
                                                    States and parts

Recovery Accomplishments

    The Service and other Federal, State, tribal, and local cooperators 
from across the Nation have funded and carried out many of the tasks 
described within the recovery plans. Annual expenditures for the 
recovery and protection of the bald eagle by public and private 
agencies have exceeded $1 million each year for the past decade 
(Service records). State fish and wildlife agencies have played a vital 
role in restoring eagles to areas from which they were extirpated or in 
which their numbers were greatly reduced. These activities include 
conducting annual surveys of breeding and productivity, purchasing 
lands for the protection of bald eagle habitat, reintroduction and 
habitat management programs, and public outreach.
    A partial survey conducted by the National Audubon Society in 1963 
reported on 417 active nests in the lower 48 States, with an average of 
0.59 young produced per nest. Surveys we coordinated in 1974 resulted 
in a population estimate of 791 occupied breeding areas for the lower 
48 States.
    Breeding and productivity surveys have been conducted annually on a 
State-by-State basis since the early 1980s. Data collection methods 
vary somewhat from State to State but generally include surveys by 
aircraft or visits to the site each year during the breeding season to 
determine the number of occupied breeding areas, and a second survey 
just before fledging to count the number of young produced at the site. 
Some States conduct the surveys themselves with agency personnel, 
others collate data from partners (including cooperating agencies), 
while some data is collected by personal interviews with reliable 
sources. Though the data collection methods may vary, most States agree 
that the data provided to us is a minimum number.
    Since the development and implementation of the recovery plans, the 
bald eagle's population growth has exceeded most of the goals 
established in the various plans. In 1994, our cooperators reported 
about 4,450 occupied breeding areas with an estimated average young per 
occupied territory of 1.16. Compared to surveys conducted in 1974, the 
number of occupied breeding areas in 1994 in the lower 48 States had 
increased by 462 percent (Figure 1). Between 1990 and 1994, there was a 
47 percent increase.


    The bald eagle was reclassified in 1995 from endangered to 
threatened as a result of the significant increase in numbers of 
nesting pairs, increased productivity and expanded distribution (60 FR 
36000, July 12, 1995).
    Recovery continues to progress at an impressive rate. In the past 
10 years, the bald eagle's nesting population has increased at an 
average rate of about 8

[[Page 36457]]

percent per year (Figure 1). The current nesting population in the 
lower 48 States constitutes more than a tenfold increase from the known 
population level in 1963. We estimate that the breeding population 
exceeded 5,748 occupied breeding areas in 1998. The bald eagle 
population has essentially doubled every 7 to 8 years during the past 
30 years.
    Recovery has been broadly distributed throughout the bald eagle's 
range. In 1984, 13 states had no nesting pairs of bald eagles. By 1998, 
all but 2 of the lower 48 States supported nesting pairs. In 1984, the 
6 States of Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington and 
Oregon contained 73 percent of all nesting pairs in the lower 48 
States. By 1998, these six States had a reduced share of 56 percent of 
all nesting pairs, due to increased nesting in other states. Much of 
the greater distribution of nesting sites is due to reoccupancy of 
vacant nesting habitat where competition for nest sites is minimal and 
an adequate prey base exists.
    An expanding population requires the successful production of 
young. Reproduction has generally met or exceeded target values 
established by recovery teams nationally for the past 10 years. Certain 
geographically restricted areas still have contamination threats, such 
as southern California, the Columbia River, along the Great Lakes and 
parts of Maine (see E. under the Summary of Factors Affecting the 
Species section). Because the adults are long-lived, a minimum of 0.7 
young per occupied breeding area is necessary to maintain a stable 
population (Sprunt, et al. 1973). With a national average of more than 
one fledgling per occupied breeding area since 1990, the eagle 
population continues to increase in overall size and maintain a healthy 
reproductive rate.
    Recovery within recovery regions has also been successful. Recovery 
plans and objectives were designed to guide and measure recovery 
efforts. They are intended to be general goals rather than absolute 
numeric targets. We discuss recovery goals for the 5 regions and the 
bald eagle's attainment of those goals discussed below.

What Are the Goals for Bald Eagle Recovery in Each Recovery Region 
and What Has Been Achieved?

Chesapeake Recovery Region

    Delisting Goals: Sustain 300-400 pairs with an average productivity 
of 1.1 young per active nest over 5 years with permanent protection of 
sufficient habitat to support this nesting population and enough 
roosting and foraging habitat to support population levels commensurate 
with increases throughout the Atlantic coastal area.
    Achievements: Numeric delisting goals were met in 1996 with more 
than 300 occupied breeding areas estimated since 1992 and average 
productivity of 1.1 young per occupied breeding area. In 1998, 538 
occupied breeding areas were estimated with an average productivity of 
1.21. Habitat protection work continues.
    Protecting bald eagle habitat remains a concern in the Chesapeake 
Recovery Region. The area contains large, expanding human population 
centers contributing to rapid development pressures and high land 
values that can conflict with bald eagle habitat needs. However, since 
1990, occupied breeding areas for the bald eagle have doubled in the 
Chesapeake Recovery Region. This increase is greater than that found in 
any other recovery region. This indicates that adequate habitat is 
still available for an increasing population of bald eagles despite 
land development pressures. The Endangered Species Act has been a key 
factor in protecting eagle habitat in the Chesapeake area, particularly 
through the application of buffer zones around nest trees.

Northern States Recovery Region

    Delisting Goals: 1,200 occupied breeding areas distributed over a 
minimum of 16 states with an average annual productivity of at least 
1.0 young per occupied nest.
    Since reclassification, the Northern States Recovery Team has 
reconvened to review the plan. The team supported the numerical goals 
established in 1983 but emphasized continued habitat protection 
    Achievements: Delisting goals were met in 1991 with 1,349 occupied 
breeding areas distributed over 20 States and an estimated average 
productivity since 1991 of greater than 1.0. In 1998 the estimated 
number of occupied breeding areas for the Northern States Recovery 
Region exceeded 2,204. Some of the most rapidly expanding areas of bald 
eagle nesting are in states with the majority of their lands held in 
private ownership. For example, between 1990 and 1998, the bald eagle 
population in Iowa increased from 8 to 83 occupied breeding areas. In 
this same period, Missouri has gone from 11 to 45 occupied breeding 
areas; Illinois increased from 8 to 43 occupied breeding areas; and 
Oklahoma has gone from 0 to 26 occupied breeding areas. The Northern 
States Recovery Region includes large tracts of federally owned land 
that is prime bald eagle habitat. The three States with the largest 
bald eagle populations in the Northern States Recovery Region 
(Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan) contain large proportions of 
public land, and eagle numbers did not quite double during the same 8-
year span. Thus, habitat on private property has proven to be very 
important for the continued expansion of the bald eagle population in 
this region.

Pacific Recovery Region

    Delisting Goals: A minimum of 800 nesting pairs with an average 
reproductive rate of 1.0 fledged young per occupied breeding area, and 
an average success rate for occupied breeding areas of not less than 
65% over a 5 year period are necessary for recovery. Attainment of 
breeding population goals should be met in at least 80% of management 
zones. Wintering populations should be stable or increasing.
    Achievements: Numeric delisting goals have been met since 1995. 
Productivity has averaged about 1.0 young per occupied breeding area 
since 1990. The average success rate for occupied breeding areas has 
exceeded 65 percent for the past five years. For 1998, six of the seven 
Pacific region States reported an average success rate of 75 percent. 
However, the plan goal for distribution among management zones is not 
yet fully achieved for all areas. The number of occupied breeding areas 
exceeded 800 in 1990 and has continued to increase. In 1998, 1,480 
occupied breeding areas were estimated. Twenty-eight of 37 (76%) 
management zone targets have been met. The zone targets were based on a 
best estimate for each area at the time, and several management zones 
that still lack nesting bald eagles may not contain preferred habitat. 
Of the 28 zones where target levels have been met, at least 11 have 
more than doubled the established goal. Wintering populations have been 
tracked in the Pacific and many other States using the mid-winter bald 
eagle surveys. However, wintering populations are difficult to assess 
because concentrations are dependent on weather and food supply and 
thus can be quite variable from year to year.

Southeastern Recovery Region

    Delisting goals: Consider delisting if the recovery trend continues 
for 5 years after reclassification goals are met. Develop the criteria 
for delisting when the species is reclassified from endangered to 
    After the reclassification to threatened in 1995, the Southeastern 
States Bald Eagle Recovery Team reconvened to

[[Page 36458]]

consider criteria for delisting. The most recent recommendations of the 
recovery team are to achieve an average of 1,500 occupied breeding 
areas over the most recent 3-year period, with an average production of 
greater than 0.9 young per occupied breeding area over the same 3 year 
period, and 8 of 11 states meeting their nesting and productivity 
    Achievements: Reclassification goals have been met and exceeded 
from 1991 through the most current data year of 1998. At the current 
rate of increase, the team expects the southeastern region to exceed 
1,500 pairs in 1999 and meet the newly recommended delisting criteria 
by the year 2000. Production since 1991 averaged 1.17 young per 
occupied territory, exceeding the goal of greater than 0.9. In 1998, 
1,485 occupied breeding areas were estimated with a productivity of 
1.15 per occupied breeding area. Newly revised individual state goals 
are expected to be met by 6 of 11 States by the year 2000.

Southwestern Recovery Region

    Delisting Goals: None given. Reclassification Goals: 10-12 young 
per year over a 5-year period; population range has to expand to 
include one or more river drainages in addition to the Salt and Verde 
    Achievements: 40 occupied breeding areas were reported for 1998 
with 36 of those in Arizona and 4 in New Mexico. Productivity was 
estimated at 0.63 per occupied breeding area. Breeding has expanded 
beyond the Salt and Verde Systems into the Gila, Bill Williams, and San 
Carlos River systems in Arizona and the Rio Grande in New Mexico. The 
number of breeding pairs has more than doubled in the last 15 years.
    Bald eagle recovery team members met in 1996 and discussed 
delisting criteria for the region. Potential reduction of support for 
the Arizona Nestwatch Program is a significant regional concern. Since 
the 1980's, the Nestwatch Program has rescued 48 eagles and eggs, and 
documented 52 cases of fishing line or tackle posing a threat to the 
nesting eagles and eaglets. At least 15 percent of the bald eagle 
production is due to the assistance provided by Nestwatch volunteers 
and staff. The State of Arizona is working with us and other partners 
to develop a Conservation Agreement which would insure the longevity of 
the Nestwatch Program.

Previous Federal Action

    On July 12, 1995, we published the final rule to reclassify the 
bald eagle from threatened in 5 States and endangered in the remaining 
lower 48 States, to threatened throughout the lower 48 States (60 FR 
36000). With that action, the Service recognized one population of bald 
eagles in the lower 48 States. Previous to that action, the proposed 
rule to reclassify the bald eagle was published on July 12, 1994, (59 
FR 35584) and an advanced notice of a proposed rule was published on 
February 7, 1990 (55 FR 4209). Listing actions are discussed in the 
Background section.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4 of the Act and the regulations (50 CFR part 424) 
promulgated to implement its listing provisions, set forth the 
procedures for listing, reclassifying, and delisting species on the 
Federal lists. A species will be listed if the Secretary of the 
Interior determines that one or more of 5 factors listed in section 
4(a)(1) of the Act threatens the continued existence of the species. A 
species may be delisted, according to 50 CFR 424.11(d), if the best 
scientific and commercial data available substantiate that the species 
is neither endangered nor threatened for one of the following reasons: 
(1) Extinction; (2) recovery; or (3) original data for classification 
of the species were in error.
    The bald eagle is proposed for delisting due to recovery. 
Discussion of the 5 listing factors and their application to the 
recovery of the bald eagle are discussed below.

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

    Nesting and wintering habitats are both critical to the continued 
survival of the bald eagle. Based on increasing population trends, 
neither nesting nor wintering habitats appear to be limiting, and there 
are no indications that availability of these habitats will limit the 
bald eagle population in the near future. Bald eagle habitat on Federal 
lands will remain protected under the regulatory mechanisms listed in 
factor D below, though to a lesser degree. Activities on private lands 
involving a Federal action will be subject to many of the laws listed 
in factor D. With the knowledge of habitat management gained through 
the recovery process, we expect that federal actions that result in a 
loss of habitat will be at an acceptable level and will not affect the 
population's stability.

B. Over-Utilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    There is no legal commercial or recreational use of bald eagles. We 
consider future legal and enforcement measures sufficient to protect 
the bald eagle from illegal activities, including trade. We exercise 
very strict control over the use of bald eagles or their parts for 
scientific, educational, and Native American religious activities. To 
respond to the religious needs of Native Americans, we have established 
the National Eagle and Wildlife Property Repository in Commerce City, 
Colorado, which serves as a collection point for dead eagles. As a 
matter of policy, all Service units transfer salvaged bald eagle parts 
and carcasses to this center. Members of Federally recognized tribes 
can obtain a permit from us authorizing them to receive and possess 
whole eagles, parts, or feathers from the repository for religious 
purposes. After removal from protection under the Endangered Species 
Act, we will still issue permits for limited exhibition and educational 
purposes, selected research work, and other special purposes consistent 
with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668d). We 
will not issue these permits if the status of the bald eagle will be 
adversely effected.

C. Disease or Predation

    Predation is not a significant problem for bald eagle populations. 
Incidents of mortality due to territorial disputes have been reported 
by National Wildlife Health Research Center pathologists based on 
examination of carcasses.
    Diseases such as avian cholera, avian pox, aspergillosis, 
tuberculosis, Mexican chicken bug, and botulism may affect individual 
eagles, but are not considered to be a significant threat to the 
population. According to the National Wildlife Health Research Center 
in Madison, Wisconsin, only 2.7 percent of bald eagles submitted to the 
Center between 1985 and 1990 died of infectious disease. Its widespread 
population distribution generally helps to protect the bald eagle from 
these catastrophic events.
    From 1994-1999, 58 eagles died at man-made lakes in Arkansas from 
apparent avian brain lesion syndrome (also referred to as vacuolar 
myelinopathy), and more recently, the disease has been detected in 
eagles in North Carolina. At present, this is a poorly understood 
disease and is present in other avian species (primarily coots and 
recently found in several species of waterfowl) in the southeast. While 
a toxic agent is suspected in the deaths of the eagles and other avian 
species, cooperative efforts are underway to determine the prevalence 
of this disease and its origin. Although these mortalities can have a 

[[Page 36459]]

impact on bald eagles, there is currently no evidence that the overall 
recovery of the population is affected.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    After removal from the list of species protected by the Act, the 
bald eagle remains fully protected by the following Federal wildlife 
laws in the United States. We believe these laws and related State 
statutes are adequate to protect and sustain a recovered bald eagle 
    The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668d) 
prohibits without specific authorization take, possession, selling, 
purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase, or barter, transport, export 
or import, of any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead or any part, nest 
or egg thereof. Use of bald eagles for falconry is prohibited. Take 
under this act is defined as ``to pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, 
wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb'' (50 CFR 22.3).
    The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703-711) prohibits, 
without specific authorization, the possession, transport, or take of 
any migratory bird (including bald eagles), their parts, nests or eggs. 
Take prohibitions under this statute includes actions to pursue, hunt, 
take, capture, kill, possess, sell, barter, purchase, ship, export or 
import protected species.
    The Lacey Act (16 U.S.C. 3372 and 18 U.S.C. 42-44) among other 
provisions, makes it unlawful to export, import, transport, sell, 
receive, acquire, or purchase any bald eagle, (1) taken or possessed in 
violation of any law, treaty, or regulation of the United States or in 
violation of any Indian tribal law or (2) to be taken, sold, or 
transported in interstate or foreign commerce, in violation of any law 
or regulation of any State or in violation of any foreign law.
    In addition to Federal laws governing the taking of bald eagles 
within the United States, international agreements govern the transport 
of bald eagles across international borders. International trade in 
bald eagles to and from the United States is strictly regulated. The 
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is an 
international treaty for the regulation of trade in species threatened 
with extinction and those that may become threatened if trade is not 
regulated. The bald eagle is currently listed under Appendix I of 
CITES, and, as a result, international trade in bald eagles not 
otherwise prohibited is restricted by the United States and 145 other 
signatory nations.
    Section 101 (a) of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251-13287) 
states that the objective of this law is to restore and maintain the 
chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters and 
provides the means to assure the ``protection and propagation of fish, 
shellfish, and wildlife'' (section 101 (a)(2)). This statute 
contributes in a significant way to the protection of bald eagles and 
their food supply through provisions for water quality standards, 
protection from the discharge of harmful pollutants, contaminants 
(section 303(c), section 304(a), and section 402) and discharge of 
dredge or fill material into all waters, including wetlands (section 
    Another important regulatory mechanism affecting bald eagles is the 
requirement that pesticides be registered with the Environmental 
Protection Agency. Under the authority of the Federal Insecticide, 
Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 136), the Environmental 
Protection Agency requires environmental testing of new pesticides. 
Testing the effects of pesticides on representative wildlife species 
before the pesticide is registered is specifically required. It is 
meant as a safeguard to avoid the type of environmental catastrophe 
that occurred from organochlorine pesticides which led to the listing 
of this species.
    The Federal Land Policy and Management Act (43 U.S.C. 1701-1784) 
requires that public lands be managed to protect the quality of 
scientific, ecological, and environmental qualities and to preserve and 
protect certain lands in their natural condition to provide food and 
habitat for fish and wildlife.
    The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661-666c) 
requires that Federal agencies sponsoring, funding, or permitting 
activities related to water resource development projects request 
review of these actions by us and the State natural resources 
management agency. These comments must be given equal consideration 
with other project purposes.
    The National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370d) 
requires the Federal agencies to evaluate the potential effects of 
their proposed actions on the human environment and requires the 
preparation of an environmental impact statement whenever projects may 
result in significant impacts. Federal agencies must identify adverse 
environmental impacts of their proposed actions and develop 
alternatives that undergo the scrutiny of other public and private 
organizations as a part of their decision making process.
    Recovery actions developed under the Endangered Species Act have 
provided the baseline of knowledge for management of bald eagles. 
Recommendations for management and protection of bald eagles will 
continue to be made in accordance with all applicable environmental 
    Removal of the bald eagle from the Federal list of endangered and 
threatened species will not affect its status under State laws as a 
threatened or endangered species or suspend any other legal protections 
provided by State law. States may have more restrictive laws protecting 
wildlife, and these will not be affected by this Federal action. Also, 
some States may choose to remove the bald eagle from their list of 
threatened and endangered species.
    Finally, the Endangered Species Act remains an important regulatory 
mechanism should an unexpected decline in bald eagle numbers occur. In 
the event that a significant decrease in the bald eagle population 
occurs, we could relist the species through normal or emergency 
procedures as a threatened or endangered species.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    Bald eagles are subject to direct and indirect mortality from a 
variety of human related activities. Intentional shooting, poisoning, 
and smuggling still occur, as well as deaths due to electrocution and 
strikes by wind turbines. Death and reproductive failure resulting from 
exposure to pesticides and secondary lead poisoning are well 
    In recent years, the use of harmful chemicals known to impair 
reproduction in bald eagles has declined throughout the United States. 
A few areas still exist where concentrations of these chemicals impair 
reproductive success. However, these areas are geographically 
restricted and have not prevented recovery of the population 
nationally. There is no evidence to indicate that the use of harmful 
organochlorines in Latin America impact the bald eagle since the 
eagle's southern range is not known to extend south of northern Mexico.
    The pesticide DDT came into widespread use after World War II. DDT 
ingested through the eagle's diet of fish, waterfowl, gulls, and other 
prey resulted in egg shell thinning. As a result, many eggs broke when 
incubated by the parent, while others suffered embryonic mortality and 
failed to hatch. By the early 1960s, recruitment had dropped and 
population numbers plummeted. In response to human health risks 
associated with DDT it was banned from

[[Page 36460]]

use in 1972. Reductions in DDT levels in freshwater fish over time have 
coincided with a steady increase in bald eagle numbers (Figure 2).


    By 1976, registrations of dieldrin, heptachlor, chlordane, and 
other toxic persistent pesticides, were canceled for all but the most 
restricted uses in the United States. Most uses of PCBs were restricted 
in 1977 and continued to be phased out during the 1980s (Schmitt and 
Bunck 1995).
    During the 1970s, the Service implemented a monitoring program to 
examine the long-term trends in the presence of pesticides and other 
harmful chemicals in fish and wildlife (Schmitt and Bunck 1995). Fish, 
starlings and duck wings were collected nationwide between 1972 and 
1985. The program tracked a downward trend of DDT concentrations in 
fish, starlings, and duck wings paralleled by declining DDE (a 
degradation product of DDT) concentrations in bald eagle eggs and 
increasing eagle eggshell thickness (Wiemeyer et al. 1993). 
Concentrations of other persistent insecticides such as heptachlor, 
dieldrin, endrin, and chlordane were also documented as declining 
nationally in fish, starlings and duck wings.
    While there has been a national decline in concentrations of these 
harmful organochlorine compounds, some areas of the country still 
harbor high concentrations and reproduction of bald eagles in these 
areas is depressed. For instance, the Channel Islands area of southern 
coastal California continues to have severe problems related to DDE 
impacts to bald eagle productivity (Garcelon 1994, Sharpe and Garcelon 
1999). The Palos Verdes Shelf is contaminated from historic releases 
from a nearby manufacturing plant. Bald eagles in the Channel Islands 
are present only through reintroduction efforts. Wiemeyer et al. (1993) 
found that addled bald eagle eggs collected from the Klamath Basin and 
Cascade Lakes region in Oregon ranked second (behind Maine) in DDE 
concentrations among the fifteen States sampled, indicating potential 
residual problems. Coastal areas which were sprayed for mosquitos and 
for cotton and orchard

[[Page 36461]]

pests still have higher concentrations of DDE than other lands (Schmitt 
and Bunck 1995). DDE concentrations along the Great Lakes remain a 
concern for that area.
    Residues of PCBs, which are persistent and toxic much like DDT, 
have also declined throughout the United States (Figure 2). They remain 
a problem in some areas, most notably the Great Lakes. Atmospheric 
transport and the internal cycling of contaminants already present in 
these lakes will likely keep PCB concentrations elevated (Schmitt and 
Bunck 1995). Bowerman (1993) has documented lower reproduction among 
eagles nesting along the coasts of the Great Lakes in Michigan compared 
to those nesting further inland. The severity of the problem along the 
Great Lakes coast apparently is being compensated for by eagles 
produced from the interior of the State seeking territories along the 
Great Lakes coast. Michigan's bald eagle population has increased, 
though at a slower rate than other states with major bald eagle 
    High concentrations of mercury cause a variety of neurological 
problems in bald eagles. Flight and other motor skills can be 
significantly altered. High mercury concentrations may also reduce the 
hatching rate of eggs. Concentrations of mercury in fish declined 
significantly from 1969 through 1974 as a result of restriction on its 
uses, but concentrations have not changed appreciably since 1974. 
Recent findings have highlighted the importance of atmospheric 
transport in the maintenance of elevated concentrations and the 
accumulation of mercury in certain areas, such as Lake Champlain and 
the Florida Everglades (Schmitt and Bunck 1995).
    The most important source of lead affecting bald eagles is 
waterfowl wounded with lead shot. The requirement in 1991 to use non-
toxic shot for waterfowl hunting has greatly reduced the threat of lead 
poisoning to bald eagles.
    New chemicals are entering the environment and though they may not 
be as persistent as their predecessors, many are toxic and their 
breakdown products are poorly understood. Maintaining a contaminant 
profile of bald eagles nationwide will be an integral part of our 
monitoring program. It will serve as a safeguard to reduce the 
possibility of population level effects from harmful contaminants.
    The shooting of bald eagles was prohibited in 1918 with the 
Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and again in 1940 with the Bald Eagle 
Protection Act (golden eagles were added in 1962). Large-scale 
mortality from unregulated shooting, like that which occurred early in 
this century, has been significantly reduced. Hunter education courses 
routinely include bald eagle identification material to educate hunters 
about bald eagles and the protections that the species is afforded. 
Although some illegal shooting of eagles is likely to occur, this is no 
longer considered a significant threat to the survival of species.
    Other causes of mortality to individual eagles continue to occur. 
Many electrical power lines have been configured to reduce 
electrocution to raptors, though electrocutions still occur. Problem 
power lines still need to be identified and modified to prevent 
electrocutions. Areas where road-killed animals are left near the 
highway can result in car collisions with bald eagles, particularly in 
winter when eagles feed on carrion more frequently. Efforts to reduce 
these mortalities are being undertaken locally.
    Human disturbance of bald eagles is a continuing threat which may 
increase as numbers of bald eagles increase and human development 
continues to expand into the rural areas. Numerous studies have 
documented that most bald eagles will flush from the nest site if 
disturbed by human presence. If the disturbance occurs frequently, 
nesting can fail, and the adults may or may not nest again. Through the 
Endangered Species Act recovery process, management guidelines have 
been developed for bald eagle nesting and wintering sites in various 
portions of the species' range. Specific conservation measures and 
recommendations have also been developed through the section 7 
consultation process to reduce disturbance at feeding sites. In areas 
throughout the country, land management practices have been 
successfully modified to reduce human disturbance to bald eagles. We 
will make these guidelines readily available to agencies and the public 
to promote their widespread use.
    Human-related impacts will continue after the bald eagle is removed 
from protection under the Endangered Species Act, and may increase 
locally with the continued growth of the eagle population and 
subsequent conflicts with expanding human activities. However, through 
remaining statutes, knowledge gained and partnerships developed in the 
recovery process, many of these conflicts can be avoided or minimized.

Conclusion of Recovery Analysis and Status Review

    Due to the wide distribution of the bald eagle, we established five 
recovery regions to outline recovery planning goals and needs on a 
regional basis leading to the development of five separate recovery 
plans for the species. The five plans, originally developed in the 
1980s, described a variety of numerical target levels for breeding 
pairs and productivity for different regions to measure recovery 
success and to set criteria for reclassification and/or delisting. In 
1994, after the implementation of the five recovery plans and steady 
increases in the population, the status of the bald eagle was reviewed. 
The analysis included an assessment of known movement and migratory 
patterns among and between recovery regions, and concluded that a 
rangewide status of ``threatened'' for a single population of bald 
eagles throughout the lower 48 States was appropriate. The bald eagle 
was then formally reclassified as a threatened species on that basis in 
1995. Treating the bald eagle as a single listed population is 
consistent with our 1996 ``Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct 
Vertebrate Population Segments under the Endangered Species Act'' (61 
FR 4722).
    This proposal is based on an internal status review of bald eagle 
recovery achievements conducted in 1998 and 1999, including an 
assessment of long-term nesting and productivity data (U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 1999, unpublished data), coordination with States and 
Tribes, an analysis of the five listing factors, and the definition of 
a ``threatened'' species under the Act. Decisions regarding the status 
of the overall bald eagle population as listed, take into consideration 
all of the regional recovery plan goals and established criteria, but 
ultimately address the status and the degree of remaining threats on a 
rangewide level.
    Bald eagle recovery goals have generally been met or exceeded for 
the species on a rangewide basis. There is no sizeable area in the 
lower 48 states where we have not seen substantial increases in eagle 
numbers. Conversely, there is no sizeable area where eagle numbers 
continue to decline. We believe the surpassing of recovery targets over 
broad areas and on a regional basis, and the continued increase in 
eagle numbers since reclassification, effectively compensates for any 
local shortfall in meeting targets in a few recovery sub-areas or 
    Recovery planning for wide ranging species such as the eagle, 

[[Page 36462]]

assumptions about habitat suitability and carrying capacity over large 
areas. In practice, the response of a species to management protections 
and subtle differences in habitat quality should be expected to vary 
across a large landscape, in this case involving many States and 
physiographic regions. Although we acknowledge that not every sub-area 
recovery target has been met for each plan, we conclude that recovery 
as outlined for the species as a whole, has been achieved.
    We have reviewed the best available scientific and commercial data 
and conclude the following:
    (1) A widespread reduction in use of persistent pesticides and 
their adverse effects on the bald eagle is evident.
    (2) Other threats are not currently of sufficient magnitude, 
individually or collectively, to place the species at risk of 
    (3) Sufficient knowledge has been gained through the recovery 
process to properly manage the bald eagle in the future.
    (4) Widespread trends in the population indicate that the bald 
eagle has recovered and no longer in danger of extinction nor is it 
likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
    For these reasons we propose to remove the bald eagle from the List 
of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

Effects of This Rule

    This rule as proposed will remove the protection afforded the bald 
eagle under the Endangered Species Act. The provisions of the Bald and 
Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act including 
prohibitions on the taking of bald eagles will remain in place. Bald 
eagles are prohibited for use in falconry under provisions of the Bald 
and Golden Eagle Protection Act (50 CFR 22.24). These and other laws 
affecting bald eagles are discussed in factor D above. This rule will 
not affect the bald eagle's status as a threatened or endangered 
species under State laws or suspend any other legal protections 
provided by State law. States may have more restrictive laws protecting 
wildlife, and these will not be affected by this Federal action. 
However, this rule may prompt some States to remove protection for the 
bald eagle under their endangered species laws.

Future Conservation Measures

    Section 4(g)(1) of the Act requires that the Secretary of the 
Interior, through the Service, monitor species for at least 5 years 
after removal from the list of endangered and threatened species. If 
evidence acquired during this monitoring period shows that the bald 
eagle should be relisted to prevent it from becoming threatened with 
extinction, we may use the normal or emergency listing authority, as 
appropriate, provided for by the Act. At the end of the 5-year 
monitoring period, we intend to coordinate with our partners regarding 
bald eagle monitoring and will review all available information to 
determine if relisting is appropriate.

Monitoring Plan

    The bald eagle was listed under the Act in 1978. Since that time 
bald eagle nesting and productivity have been monitored throughout the 
lower 48 States. The monitoring has provided us with information 
regarding the status and health of the bald eagle population. At a 
minimum, monitoring included a census of the number of occupied 
breeding areas, defined as a pair defending a nesting territory in 
nesting season, and the number of young produced, which has been 
censused near the age of fledging. This effort has produced an 
excellent data set and forms the basis of this delisting proposal. If 
the historic population monitoring effort is continued following bald 
eagle delisting, we believe that monitoring for contaminants may be the 
only additional effort needed.
    In preparation of this rule, we requested each State to indicate 
its intentions regarding post-delisting monitoring should this rule 
become final. More than 80 percent of all States in the lower 48 intend 
to continue the same monitoring effort for at least 5 years post-
delisting. Many of our Federal partners have also indicated a 
willingness to continue bald eagle monitoring.
    As a result of the strong support from our partners, we will work 
to ensure that nationwide monitoring of bald eagle nesting continue 
annually for the 5 years following delisting. The monitoring will be 
the same as it has been through the time the bald eagle has been listed 
following the guidelines set forth in the recovery plans. It includes 
the following:
    (1) Number of Occupied Breeding Areas. We will work with partners 
to monitor numbers of occupied breeding areas in each state annually 
and collate the data. This will continue the extensive data set that 
has been developed over the past 20 years.
    (2) Number of Young Produced. This requires a second visit to the 
nesting site near time of fledging. Number of young fledged is an 
important indicator of reproductive health and may act as an early 
warning for problems such as disease, contaminant effects, lack of 
adequate habitat, disturbance, etc.
    (3) Contaminant Analysis and Archiving. We are proposing to examine 
contaminant effects on reproduction by collecting addled eggs from 
those areas having past problems and where present or suspected 
problems occur. The eggs would be taken every year for the first 5 
years, and possibly a reduced number of collections would be made 
thereafter. Collections should be taken from the same immediate nest 
site area. We are also proposing to sample blood from a small subset of 
nesting pairs covering a broad geographic range and a broad range of 
human influences. All eggs and blood will be archived by freezing at 
-80 deg.C. In the event contamination or poisoning is suspected, 
archived samples will be withdrawn and properly analyzed by Service-
approved laboratories. In addition, a subset of the egg samples will be 
analyzed each year for organochlorines which are known to adversely 
impact bald eagle reproductive success. A subset of blood samples will 
be analyzed where contaminant exposure is suspected.

Five-Year Post-Delisting Assessment

    (4) At the end of 5 years post-delisting, we will review the most 
current bald eagle data set for the lower 48 States, assess the results 
and make this information available to the public. We will also consult 
with States and other partners to determine the need for future 
monitoring efforts which may include consideration of national or 
regional monitoring protocols.
    (5) At the end of 5 years post-delisting, we will also consider 
evidence of any factors significantly affecting the population which 
may indicate that a serious decline is occurring and that relisting 
should be considered. These factors include but are not limited to the 
following: a) contaminant-related concerns which result in mortality or 
effects on breeding activities; b) declining numbers of occupied 
breeding areas; c) declining reproduction; and d) significant changes 
in distribution.

Public Comments Solicited

    We request comments on three aspects of this proposed rulemaking:

A. Proposed Delisting

    We are soliciting comments or suggestions from the public, other 
concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or 
any other interested party concerning this proposed rule. Send your 

comments to the Service's bald eagle recovery

[[Page 36463]]

coordinator (see ADDRESSES section). We are particularly seeking 
comments concerning:
    (1) Biological, commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning 
any threat (or lack thereof) to this species;
    (2) Additional information concerning the range, distribution, and 
population size of this species;
    (3) Current or planned activities in the range of this species and 
their possible impacts on this species;
    (4) Data on population trends;
    (5) Information and comments pertaining to the proposed monitoring 
program contained in this proposal.
    The final decision on this proposal for the bald eagle will take 
into consideration comments and additional information we receive 
during this comment period.
    The Endangered Species Act provides for one or more public hearings 
on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 
days of the date of publication of this proposal. Such requests must be 
made in writing and sent to the Service's bald eagle recovery 
coordinator (see ADDRESSES section).

B. Executive Order 12866

    Executive Order 12866 requires agencies to write regulations that 
are easy to understand. We invite your comments on how to make this 
proposal easier to understand including answers to questions such as 
the following.
    (1) Is the discussion in the ``Supplementary Information'' section 
of the preamble helpful in understanding the proposal?
    (2) Does the proposal contain technical language or jargon that 
interferes with its clarity?
    (3) Does the format of the proposal (groupings and order of 
sections, use of headings, paragraphing, etc.) aid or reduce its 
clarity? What else could the Service do to make the proposal easier to 

(See ADDRESSES section)

C. Paperwork Reduction Act

    OMB regulations at 5 CFR 1320, which implement provisions of the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-13, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et 
seq.) require that interested members of the public and affected 
agencies have an opportunity to comment on agency information 
collection and record keeping activities (see 5 CFR 1320.8(d)). We 
intend to collect information from the public during the 5-year 
monitoring period following delisting of the bald eagle. A description 
of the information collection burden and the comments requested on this 
collection are included in the Paperwork Reduction Act section below.
Paperwork Reduction Act
    Simultaneous with publication of this proposed delisting rule, we 
have submitted an application for information collection approval from 
OMB. We may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to 
respond to a collection of information, unless it displays a currently 
valid OMB control number.
    Section 4(g) of the Endangered Species Act requires that all 
species that are delisted due to recovery be monitored for a minimum of 
5 years. A general description of the information that will be 
collected during the monitoring period was provided above in the 
Monitoring section of this proposal.
    We intend to collect information from States, researchers and land 
managers associated with a variety of organizations and agencies. Some 
of the information gathered will be part of already ongoing State, 
Federal, or private monitoring programs. We will also use information 
from other study areas where appropriate data are available.
    The information collected will allow us to detect any failure of 
the species to sustain itself following delisting. If during this 
monitoring period we determine that the species is not sufficiently 
maintaining its recovered status, we could relist the species as 
endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
    We estimate approximately 60 respondents to requests for 
information on the status of the bald eagle per year. Different 
respondents may provide one or more types of information. A total of 
125 burden hours per year is estimated for these 60 respondents.
    OMB regulations at 5 CFR part 1320, which implement provisions of 
the Paperwork Reduction Act, require that interested members of the 
public and affected agencies have an opportunity to comment on 
information collection and record keeping activities (see 5 CFR 
1320.8(d)). Comments are invited on (1) whether the collection of 
information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of 
the agency, including whether the information will have practical 
utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the 
collection of information; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, 
and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to 
minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, 
including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, 
mechanical, or other technical collection techniques or other forms of 
information technology. Send comments on information collection to OMB 
and the Service's Information Collection Clearance Officer (see 
ADDRESSES section).
National Environmental Policy Act
    We have determined that an Environmental Assessment or 
Environmental Impact Statement, as defined under the authority of the 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, need not be prepared in 
connection with regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. We published a notice 
outlining the Service's reasons for this determination in the Federal 
Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

References Cited

American Ornithologists' Union. 1983. Check-list of North American 
birds. 6th Edition. Allen Press, Lawrence, Kansas. 877 pp.
Bowerman, William Wesley IV. 1993. Regulation of bald eagle 
(Haliaeetus leucocephalus) productivity in the Great Lakes Basin: An 
ecological and toxicological approach. PhD Thesis. Michigan State 
Univ., Dept. of Fish. and Wildlife, Inst. for Env. Tox., and Ecol. 
and Evol. Biol. Program. 291 pp.
Carson, R.L. 1962. Silent spring. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York. 
Garcelon, David L. 1994. Effects of organochlorine contaminants on 
bald eagle reproduction at Santa Catalina Island. Institute for 
Wildlife Studies, Arcata, California. 16pp.
Gerrard, J.M., and G.R. Bortolotti. 1988. The bald eagle: Haunts and 
habits of a wilderness monarch. Smithsonian Institution Press, 
Washington and London. 177pp.
Herrick, R.H. 1932. Daily life of the American eagle: Early phase. 
Auk 49: 219-323.
Hunt, W.G., D.E. Driscoll, E.W. Bianchi, and R.E. Jackman. 1992. 
Ecology of bald eagles in Arizona. Report to U.S. Bureau of 
Reclamation, Contract 6-CS-30-04470. Biosystems Analysis, Inc., 
Santa Cruz, CA. p. A-149.
Peters, J.L. 1979. Check-list of Birds of the World. Vol. 1. 2nd Ed. 
Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, Mass. p.301.
Schempf, P.F. 1997. Bald eagle longevity record from southeastern 
Alaska. J. Field Ornithology; 68:1:150-151.
Schmitt, C.J. and C.M. Bunck. 1995. Persistent environmental 
contaminants in fish and wildlife. IN: Our Living Resources, 
National Biological Service. pp.413-416.
Sharpe P.B. and D.K. Garcelon. 1999. Restoration and Management of 
Bald Eagles and Santa Catalina Island, California, 1998. Report to 
the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Field Office. 
Institute for Wildlife Studies, Arcata, CA. 26pp.

[[Page 36464]]

Sprunt, Al, IV, W.B. Robertson, Jr., S. Postupalsky, R.J. Hensel, 
C.E. Knoder, and F.J. Ligas. 1973. Comparative productivity of six 
bald eagle populations. Trans. of 38th N. American Wildlife and 
Natural Resources Conf. Washington, D.C. pp.96-106.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1982. Southwestern bald eagle 
recovery plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, New 
Mexico. 74pp.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1983. Northern states bald eagle 
recovery plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Twin Cities, 
Minnesota. 76pp.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1986. Pacific bald eagle recovery 
plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon. 160pp.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1989. Southeastern states region 
bald eagle recovery plan. First revision. U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Atlanta, Georgia. 41pp.+ app.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1990. Chesapeake Bay region bald 
eagle recovery plan: First revision. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Hadley, Massachusetts. 80pp.
Wiemeyer, Stanley N., Christine M. Bunck, and Charles J. Stafford. 
1993. Environmental contaminants in bald eagle eggs--1980-84--and 
further interpretations of relationships to productivity and shell 
thickness. Archives Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 
Wood, P.B., M.W. Collopy, and C.M. Sekerak. 1998. Post fledging nest 
dependence period for bald eagles in Florida. Journal of Wildlife 
Management 62:333-339.

    Author. The primary author of this proposed rule is Jody Gustitus 
Millar, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rock Island Field Office (see 
ADDRESSES section).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter 
I, Title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below:


    1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.

Sec. 17.11  [Amended]

    2. Section 17.11(h) is amended by removing the entry for ``Eagle, 
bald, Haliaeetus leucocephalus'' under ``BIRDS'' from the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

Sec. 17.41  [Amended]

    3. Section 17.41 is amended by removing and reserving paragraph 

    Dated: June 21, 1999.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 99-16924 Filed 7-2-99; 8:45 am]