[Federal Register: July 22, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 139)]
[Page 36247-36248]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R3-MB-2009-N149] [30120-1113-0000-D3]

Information Collection Sent to the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) for Approval; Bald Eagle Post-delisting Monitoring

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.


SUMMARY:  We (Fish and Wildlife Service, Service) have sent an 
Information Collection Request (ICR) to OMB for review and approval. 
The ICR, which is summarized below, describes the nature of the 
collection and the estimated burden and cost. 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.

DATES: You must send comments on or before August 21, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments and suggestions on this information 
collection to the Desk Officer for the Department of the Interior at 
OMB-OIRA at (202) 395-5806 (fax) or OIRA_DOCKET@OMB.eop.gov (e-mail). 
Please provide a copy of your comments to Hope Grey, Information 
Collection Clearance Officer, Fish and Wildlife Service, MS 222-ARLSQ, 
4401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203 (mail) or hope_
grey@fws.gov (e-mail).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To request additional information 
about this ICR, contact Hope Grey by mail or e-mail (see ADDRESSES) or 
by telephone at (703) 358-2482.

    OMB Control Number: None. This is a new collection.
    Title: Bald Eagle Post-delisting Monitoring.
    Type of Request: New.
    Affected Public: States, tribes, and local governments, Federal 
land managers, and nongovernmental partners.
    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.
    Frequency of Collection: Once every 5 years.
    Note: For each 5-year survey, we estimate a total of 48 respondents 
will provide 48 responses totaling 1,478 burden hours. The burden 
estimates below are annualized over the 3-year period of OMB approval.
    Estimated Annual Number of Respondents: 16.
    Estimated Total Annual Responses: 16.
    Estimated Time per Response: 30.8 hours.
    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 493.
    Abstract: This information collection implements the requirements 
of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (ESA). The bald 
eagle in the lower 48 States was removed from the List of Endangered 
and Threatened Wildlife on August 8, 2007 (July 9, 2007, 72 FR 37346). 
Section 4(g) of the ESA requires that all species that are recovered 
and removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife 
(delisted) be monitored in cooperation with the States for a period of 
not less than 5 years. The purpose of this requirement is to detect any 
failure of a recovered species to sustain itself without the 
protections of the ESA.
    The bald eagle has a large geographic distribution that includes a 
substantial amount of non-Federal land. Although the ESA requires that 
monitoring of recovered species be conducted for not less than 5 years, 
the life history of bald eagles is such that it is appropriate to 
monitor this species for a longer period of time in order to 
meaningfully evaluate whether or not the recovered species continues to 
maintain its recovered status.
    We plan to monitor the status of the bald eagle by collecting data 
on occupied nests over a 20-year period with sampling events held once 
every 5 years. The Post-delisting Monitoring Plan for the Bald Eagle 
(Plan) describes monitoring procedures and methods.
    When OMB takes action on this ICR, we will publish a notice in the 
Federal Register announcing the availability of the final Plan. If you 
would like a copy of the Plan before the notice of availability is 
published, contact Hope Grey (see ADDRESSES) or you can obtain a copy 
online at http://www.reginfo.gov.
    Comments: On July 9, 2007, we published a notice of availability 
for the draft Plan in the Federal Register (72 FR 37373). We solicited 
comments for a period of 90 days, ending on October 9, 2007. In 
addition, in the fall of 2007, we gave two web presentations for State 
biologists. These presentations focused on the survey and data 
collection methods. We considered all comments from the Federal 
Register notice and the web presentations and addressed them in the 
    Comment: Adequate funding for monitoring has not been identified.
    Response: The Service will fund the area frame surveys for the 
initial baseline survey, including the use of aircraft and pilots to 
complete the surveys. We will continue to work with the States, tribes, 
and our other partners to secure funding for future surveys.
    Comment: Five-year intervals between monitoring are insufficient.
    Response: In order to assess several generations of bald eagles 
after delisting, this Plan recommends monitoring bald eagle nesting 
populations at 5-year intervals (which would follow the development 
cycle to maturity for one generation) for four generations or a total 
of 20 years. This exceeds the requirements of the ESA. Many States 
monitor bald eagle nests on an annual basis because the surveys provide 
valuable resource data. Some States have indicated that their future 
bald eagle monitoring will be greatly reduced due to its recovery and 
the need to allocate funding to other areas. Thus, 5-year survey 
intervals will provide more data for States where surveys are not 
otherwise planned. It may also provide a cost savings for other States 
if they can use these data at 5-year intervals to satisfy their needs.

[[Page 36248]]

    Comment: Twenty-five percent decline is too large of an interval to 
serve as a trigger mechanism for review.
    Response: The goal of the Plan is to detect a 25-percent or greater 
change in occupied bald eagle nests over any period, measured at 5-year 
intervals based on an 80 percent chance of detecting such a change. We 
believe this is a goal that both ensures continued recovery under the 
ESA and is cost-effective. If a 25-percent decline is detected, it 
means a reduction to a level still recognized as recovered under the 
ESA. If such declines are detected, we, in conjunction with the States, 
will investigate causes of those declines. At the end of the 20-year 
monitoring program, we will coordinate with States and our other 
partners to conduct a final review and provide recommendations to 
ensure a properly managed population of the recovered bald eagle.
    Comment: Implementation involves potential sampling bias due to 
variable observer experience and familiarity with nesting territories.
    Response: We have structured training, pre-survey preparation, and 
survey protocols to minimize potential sampling bias. Though 
experienced bald eagle observers may be familiar with specific nests, 
pilot studies showed that the observers were able to change mindsets 
from ``searching habitat'' in Area plots to ``determining the status of 
specific known list nests'' in List plots, without issue. Using the 
dual-observer method to determine individual detection probabilities 
for observers will help account for differences in observer experience. 
In planning Area plots survey routes, observers will be given maps that 
show habitat, but not the location of nests, allowing survey route 
planning to be based on habitat characteristics.
    Comment: Conducting a large-scale monitoring project every 5 years 
could create staffing problems.
    Response: Staffing will require open and clear communication among 
the States, tribes, and the Service. If State staff are not available 
for surveys, we will draw upon local Service offices, tribal 
biologists, retired Service and State employees, and experienced 
volunteers to fill in as observers.
    Comment: There is a lack of a comprehensive monitoring program for 
environmental contaminants.
    Response: We worked with the U.S. Geological Survey to develop a 
searchable database/library dedicated to contaminants investigations of 
bald eagle, osprey, and peregrine falcons. The objective was to create 
a readily available source of information to consider should the bald 
eagle (or peregrine) population decline. This database provides 
biologists an overview of the most recent findings of contaminant 
effects on these species. If additional studies are needed during post-
delisting monitoring, the database will clarify what has been studied 
and what has not.
    Comment: The phrase ``broad geographic areas'' in the section on 
Habitat implies that the analysis of survey data may be accomplished on 
something less than a rangewide scale.
    Response: This is correct. If trends in nest occupancy 
significantly decline over broad geographic areas, whether rangewide or 
more regionally, we will investigate a change in available nesting 
habitat as a possible cause and take appropriate actions, as feasible.
    Comment: Customized parameters may be required in certain local 
    Response: We agree and have modified the Plan accordingly.
    Comment: The definition of bald eagle habitat in the Plan, 
especially the size of water bodies required, may not be appropriate 
for some geographic regions, especially the Southwest.
    Response: We modified the Plan to reflect that local conditions may 
warrant modifications to the habitat being considered. Input from local 
eagle biologists will be necessary in these unique or localized 
    Comment: Surveys based on Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs) will not 
work in some States (e.g., eagle distribution is linear and follows 
major waterways which cross multiple BCRs).
    Response: We recognize some of the limitations of this approach, 
but still maintain it is the most appropriate for application across 
broad geographic areas. We will work with local biologists to further 
refine the stratification on a local level.
    Comment: The boundary between the Northern Pacific Rainforest BCR 
and the Great Basin BCR, although correctly mapped in the Plan, is an 
incorrect depiction of the margin between the two ecoregions. This has 
resulted in inappropriate numbers being used in calculations of nests 
in the BCR tables in the Plan.
    Response: We have modified this portion of the Plan to reflect that 
we will work with local biologists and others to further refine the BCR 
boundaries to more accurately reflect habitat groupings and, as 
appropriate, modify calculations of nests and nest densities per BCR.
    We again invite comments concerning this information collection on:
    (1) Whether or not the collection of information is necessary, 
including whether or not the information will have practical utility;
    (2) The accuracy of our estimate of the burden for this 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 
    Comments that you submit in response to this notice are a matter of 
public record. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail 
address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you 
should be aware that your entire comment, including your personal 
identifying information, may be made publicly available at any time. 
While you can ask OMB in your comment to withhold your personal 
identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that it 
will be done.

    Dated: June 23, 2009
Hope Grey,
Information Collection Clearance Officer, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. E9-17387 Filed 7-21-09; 8:45 am]