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June 20, 2014 – The American Bird Conservancy (ABC), a nonprofit who works to conserve native birds and their habitats, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of the Interior (DOI) over a federal rule that allows wind energy companies and others to obtain 30-year permits to lawfully kill or injure eagles.
Enacted on Dec. 9, 2013, the regulation extended previous permits by 25 years. The lawsuit claims the rule is in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and other statutes designed to protect the eagle. In addition, ABC argues that the rule was classified as an administrative change and was not subject to a full environmental review.
“Eagles are among our nation’s most iconic and cherished birds. They do not have to be sacrificed for the next 30 years for the sake of unconstrained wind energy,” said Dr. Michael Hutchins, National Coordinator of ABC’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Program. “Giving wind companies a 30-year pass to kill Bald and Golden Eagles without knowing how it might affect their populations is a reckless and irresponsible gamble that millions of Americans are unwilling to take.”
Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced they would review the controversial rule and engage the public in the process through public information meetings and a 90-day public comment period.
“The Service is committed to an open and transparent process, and we value the additional information public input can provide to make the final rule robust and as effective as possible,” said USFWS Director Dan Ashe.
The decline of bald eagle populations in North American began to be noted in the 1950s. In 1978, the bald eagle was listed as an endangered or threatened species throughout the 48 contiguous states. This listing, along with other conservation efforts to protect the species, resulted in significant increases in the bald eagle breeding population in the United States. In 2007, the USFWS officially delisted the bald eagle as a threatened or endangered species.
“The bald eagle’s recovery from near extinction in the lower 48 states is an American success story, written in part by the Service, the dedication of its staff, its leadership in eagle conservation, and its administration and enforcement of the Endangered Species Act and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act,” said Ashe. “The Service remains committed to the conservation of bald and golden eagles, and the final rule will be consistent with the long-term conservation of eagle populations across the nation.”