The resurging American bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list in 2007 but will continue to enjoy some of the protections of that designation under new rules issued Wednesday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 provides strict penalties for the taking, possession or commerce of eagles or any part of the bird, including nests and eggs. The new provisions grandfather into the act a permit process that was created for landowners whose land management practices could endanger eagles or eagle habitat.
In a statement issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service, the regulations are "part of an ongoing process to ensure that the bald eagle is effectively conserved and managed under the Eagle Act now that the eagle is no longer protected as a threatened species."
The permits aid the service by providing a method to make sure that practices of landowners that may harm eagles are balanced by conservation efforts an approach Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall said coincides with his agency's protection goals.
"Though no longer endangered throughout most of North America, bald eagles continue to receive strong protection through the Eagle Act," Hall said. "Today's action ensures that responsible landowners will be able to manage their lands consistent with the assurances they were given under the Endangered Species Act."
At the time the bald eagle was delisted, in June 2007, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne said that the lower 48 states had 10,000 pairs of nesting pairs and the bird had, through conservation efforts, experienced a "25-fold increase in 40 years."