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GLIN==> U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Releases Draft Environmental Assessment for the Definition of Disturb under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act



----- Forwarded by Rich Greenwood/R3/FWS/DOI on 12/13/2006 07:05 AM -----

Richard Greenwood
    USFWS Liaison to USEPA Great Lakes National Program Office
    Team Leader Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem Team
Great Lakes National Program Office
77 West Jackson Blvd. (G-17J)
Chicago, IL 60604
Ph:  312-886-3853  Fax:  312-353-2018
Email:  rich_greenwood@fws.gov or greenwood.richard@epa.gov
http://greatlakes.fws.gov/

Contact: Nicholas Throckmorton, 202/208-5636

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a draft environmental
assessment of the definition of “disturb” under the Bald and Golden Eagle
Protection Act in today’s Federal Register, opening a 30 day public comment
period.  The Eagle Protection Act and this definition, if approved, will be
used to manage the bald eagle if it is removed from the Federal list of
threatened and endangered species.

The draft environmental assessment made available today contains as its
preferred alternative a definition of disturb similar to what was proposed
in February.  It has been revised for purposes of clarity.  The revised
definition reads as follows:  “Disturb means to agitate or bother a bald or
golden eagle to the degree that causes injury or death to an eagle
(including chicks or eggs) due to interference with normal breeding,
feeding, or sheltering behavior, or nest abandonment. Injury would be
defined as “a wound or other physical harm, including a loss of biological
fitness significant enough to pose a discernible risk to an eagle’s
survival or productivity.”

"The recovery of the bald eagle and possible removal from the Endangered
Species List is a great national success story," said H. Dale Hall,
Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  "As we prepare to manage
bald eagles under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the modified
definition of disturb reemphasizes the management efforts that have proven
so successful in recovering eagle populations. If the eagle is delisted, we
plan to have a smooth transition in the management and protection under the
Eagle Protection Act.”

If removed from the list of threatened and endangered species, bald eagles
will continue to be protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act
and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).  Both acts protect bald eagles by
prohibiting killing, selling or otherwise harming eagles, their nests or
eggs.

Last February, the Service proposed a regulation to clarify the term
"disturb" under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and opened a
public comment period on the proposal. In accordance with the National
Environmental Policy Act, the Service has prepared a draft environmental
assessment (EA) on the proposed regulation and the proposed definition of
“disturb.”

The draft EA is open for the public to comment for thirty days, and the
comment period on the proposed definition is also re-opened for thirty
days. To see the draft EA, visit the Service’s bald eagle website at
http://migratorybirds.fws.gov/BaldEagle.html.

After public comment, the Service will publish the final definition of
“disturb” and Bald Eagle Management Guidelines and intends to propose a
rulemaking to establish criteria for issuance of a permit to authorize
activities that would "take" bald eagles under the Eagle Protection Act.
The Service will consider addressing the existing Endangered Species Act
authorizations in that rulemaking, which if finalized may extend comparable
authorizations under the Eagle Act.

Comments on the draft environmental assessment on the definition of
“disturb” under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act must be received
by (30 days after Federal Register publication).  Comments should be sent
to Chief, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MBSP-4107, Arlington, Virginia   22203.
Comments on the draft environmental assessment may also be transmitted
electronically at <baldeagle_proposedrule@fws.gov>.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small
wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national
fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services
field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the
Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores
nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat
such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments
with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance
program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes
on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
Visit the Service’s website at http://www.fws.gov.


                                   -FWS-

**Editors note:   Press materials are available on the Services new bald
eagle website at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/baldeagle.htm.  B-roll
and still photographs of bald eagles are available.

***************************************************************************
News releases are also available on the World Wide Web at
http://news.fws.gov

Questions concerning a particular news release or item of
information should be directed to the person listed as the
contact. General comments or observations concerning the
content of the information should be directed to Malcomb Barsella
(malcomb_barsella@fws.gov) in the Office of Public Affairs.

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