- What is it?
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), which was enacted in 1940 and amended several times, prohibits anyone, without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior, from “taking” bald/golden eagles, including their parts, nests, or eggs.
While the bald eagle was removed from the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) list, they are still protected by the BGEPA and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). All three laws are administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
- What has the Army done?
Bald and golden eagles are found on many Army installations. Whenever a training event, construction project, or other action is planned, potential impacts of that action on eagles are assessed. If a determination is made that there may be adverse effects, the Army engages with USFWS to develop options that will reduce or eliminate those effects. In rare cases, a permit may be issued to the Army if adverse effects are unavoidable (e.g., if a nest needs to be removed during certain times of the year).
A major difference between BGEPA and the ESA is the Army may make a determination of “not likely to adversely affect” without having to initiate any dialogue with the USFWS. However, if the Army determines an action will likely cause a disturbance or to bald or golden eagles, then a permit from USFWS is needed.
- Why is this important?
BGEPA provides for criminal penalties for persons who “take; possess; sell; purchase; barter; offer to sell, purchase or barter; transport; export or import, at any time or any manner, any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, or any part, nest or egg thereof.”
BGEPA defines “take” as pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest, or disturb. 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.
To ensure that the species are protected and constraints on mission activities are minimized or eliminated, Army wildlife biologists and natural resources specialists follow strict guidelines to engage with USFWS whenever there are potential impacts to eagles.