The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to the conservation of eagles throughout the United States. We understand that certain activities and endeavors that people undertake that are otherwise legal and abide by other laws may result in unintentional (also called non-purposeful or incidental) harm to eagles. This harm can be in the form of disturbance to eagles, encroachment on eagle nests, and loss of individual eagles. This harm to eagles is often called "take." The term "take" under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act "means pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, destroy, molest, or disturb" an eagle (50 CFR 22.6). Disturb means "to agitate or bother a bald or golden eagle to a degree that causes, or is likely to cause, based on the best scientific information available, (1) injury to an eagle, (2) a decrease in its productivity, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior, or (3) nest abandonment, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior" (50 CFR 22.6). Take of eagles in any form, even if unintended, is a violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
However, there are regulations that allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to permit take of bald eagles or golden eagles (50 CFR 22) to allow for compliance with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act when specific criteria and conditions are met. The take permitting system under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act provides an effective means for the Service to work proactively with public and private entities to reduce this unintentional harm to eagles and, when necessary, assure it is offset. It also provides a mechanism to gain critical data to track mortality rates and causes. In return for working with the Service to reduce harm to eagles, a permittee is provided a guarantee that they will not be prosecuted for the loss or disturbance of a specific number of eagles.
Along with incidental take of eagles, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may also issue permits for the take, possession, or transportation of bald and golden eagles, as well as their parts, nests, and eggs. Please find below the list of available eagle permit types. To apply for an eagle permit of any type, please visit ePermits.
You may be asking yourself, how do permits authorizing take of eagles protect eagles and how are they consistent with preservation of eagle populations?
As mentioned above, permits are an effective means for the Service to work proactively with public and private entities to reduce unintentional harm to eagles and, when necessary, assure it is offset. A permittee that takes eagles under the authority of a permit must implement measures to avoid, minimize, and otherwise mitigate threats to eagles. To ensure permit issuance is consistent with the goal of stable or increasing eagle populations, compensatory mitigation that offsets eagle mortality may also be required for permit issuance.
Permitting of incidental take of eagles is not new; it was employed for bald eagles while they were listed under the Endangered Species Act, during which time bald eagle populations increased dramatically. Permits provide a comprehensive conservation mechanism to reduce loss of and disturbance to eagles. Permitting involves engaging the permittee in a process to avoid and mitigate the loss of eagles to the maximum extent practicable. Only after all practicable conservation measures are incorporated will remaining take be authorized and then allowed only up to a specific number of eagles. This ensures compatibility with our goal of stable or increasing eagle populations. The permits themselves act as an important feedback mechanism by providing additional information on eagle mortality to Service scientists to help inform future permitting decisions.
National Environmental Policy Act
Issuance of eagle take permits under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act may require environmental consequences analyses pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Service prepared a programmatic review of the impacts from issuance of incidental take of eagles and take of eagle nests. The analysis of various alternative management options and rule revisions, including the final rule revisions, are documented in the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Eagle Rule Revision, and our final decision on proceeding with the final rule is documented in the Record of Decision.
We may also conduct environmental analyses for issuance of individual eagle permits. The Service makes the documents pertaining to these NEPA analyses available to the public in our NEPA Documents for Eagle Permits library:
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Documents for Eagle Permits
Eagle Incidental Take Permitting
The Service may authorize the "take" of eagles where the take is compatible with the preservation of bald and golden eagles, and the take is associated with, but not the purpose, of an activity and cannot be practicably avoided. This type of take is considered "incidental take." The regulation authorizing incidental eagle take permits for bald and golden eagles can be found in the Code of the Federal Register 50 CFR 22.80.
On February 12, 2024, the Service published in the Federal Register a final rule and final environmental assessment that revises permitting for eagle incidental take and eagle nest take under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The purpose of this rulemaking is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of permitting, improve clarity for the regulated community, and increase the conservation benefit for eagles. In addition to continuing to authorize specific permits, we created general permits for certain activities under prescribed conditions, including qualifying wind energy generation projects, power line infrastructure, activities that may disturb breeding bald eagles, and bald eagle nest take. General permits simplify and expedite the permitting process for activities that have relatively consistent and low risk to eagles and well-established avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation measures. We also made improvements to the specific permit application review process and requirements, revised permit fees, and clarified definitions.
This report is a technical update of the scientific information for bald eagles published in the Service’s Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), which was finalized in December 2016. In the PEIS, the Service committed to updating population size estimates and take...
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service encourages the development of an Eagle Conservation Plan when incidental eagle take may occur. Our Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance: Module 1 - Land-Based Wind Energy provides specific in-depth guidance for conserving bald and golden eagles in the course of siting, construction and operation of wind energy facilities, and also indicates much of the information the Service will need when processing an application from a wind facility for incidental eagle take.
The USFWS formally announced our adoption of updated species-specific eagle exposure and collision probabilities used to generate fatality estimates for consideration in issuing eagle incidental take permits to wind-energy facilities under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Our updated Collision Risk Model Priors for Estimating Eagle Fatalities at Wind Energy Facilities were published in the Federal Register on May 6, 2021 . This action will improve our ability to carry out our statutory responsibility to ensure conservation of bald eagles and golden eagles when issuing those permits.
In the Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance for incidental take of eagles associated with wind energy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed a collision risk model to predict the number of golden and bald eagles that may be killed at wind facilities. The Collision Risk Model incorporates...
This document addresses common questions about eagle incidental take permits for wind facilities.
Compensating for Unavoidable Take
Compensatory mitigation may be required to offset eagle take authorized under an incidental eagle take permit. If mitigation is needed to offset bald eagle take, the standard ratio for mitigation is 1:1. As there is evidence that golden eagle populations may be declining, for golden eagles there is a regulatory requirement for a mitigation ratio of at least 1.2:1.
Resource Equivalency Analysis
We developed Resource Equivalency Analysis tools to calculate the compensatory mitigation needed to offset permitted eagle take.
The Service developed Resource Equivalency Analysis tools to calculate the compensatory mitigation needed to offset permitted eagle take via direct mortality, disturbance, or territory loss using power pole retrofits. Electrocution of eagles by power pole elements is a significant cause of...
Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Compensatory Mitigation Programs
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has authorized two programs, the Bald Eagle And Golden Eagle Electrocution Prevention In-lieu Fee Program and the Eagle Protection and Offset Program, to sell compensatory mitigation credits for bald and golden eagle take. These two third-party mitigation banking options are specific to eagles and authorized by USFWS to offset incidental eagle take. (Note: USFWS authorization of these programs does not constitute blanket endorsement of either company, or a parent company, operating these programs)
Along with protecting eagles, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act also protects eagle nests. Eagle nests are protected at all times, not just when the nests are in use by eagles. This means eagle nests can never be removed or destroyed, no matter what time of year it is, without a permit.
A Federal eagle nest take permit authorizes the take of eagle nests in limited circumstances. Permits are available to individuals, agencies, businesses, and other organizations. This permit does not authorize possession of any eagle, eagle parts, or eagle nests.
This permit may be...
Business Owner/Commercial Business
Government or Government Representative - Local Government
Government or Government Representative - State Government
Landowner - Commercial
Landowner - Individual
Native American Tribal Agency or Organization - Federally Recognized
Native American Tribal Member or Agency - Federally Recognized
Photographer/Videographer - Commercial
Photographer/Videographer - Individual
Private Land Owners/Managers
Public Land Manager
Bald Eagles vs. Golden Eagles
Understanding eagle characteristics is key to properly identifying them, which is very important in determining the need for a permit and what kind of permit may be needed. Learn more by selecting an eagle type.
A large raptor, the bald eagle has a wingspread of about seven feet. Adults have a dark brown body and wings, white head and tail, and a yellow beak. Juveniles are mostly brown with white mottling on the body, tail, and undersides of wings. Adult plumage usually is obtained by the sixth year. In...
Are you planning an activity around an active, or in-use nest, or alternate, or inactive, bald eagle nest? Wondering if you need a permit?
An incidental take permit can be issued for taking eagles when the take is associated with, but not the purpose of, an activity and cannot practicably be...
The National Eagle Repository is a one of a kind facility, operated and managed by the Office of Law Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The main purpose is to receive, evaluate, store and distribute dead golden and bald eagles, parts and feathers to Native Americans and Alaska Natives...
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