ABC Says Eagle Rule Weakens Current Protections-Sanctions Eagle Deaths

Friday, December 6, 2013

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is reviewing the revised eagle rule announced today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), asserting that the plan may mark a setback in protecting Bald and Golden eagles, two species that have inspired Americans for centuries.

“I can’t imagine many things more important than protecting a bird so widely regarded as one of this country’s most iconic species,” said Dr. George Fenwick, president of the American Bird Conservancy.

In its previous comments on this rule, ABC asked for more transparency and adaptive management through improved siting, mitigation, and compensation to minimize the impact of wind energy development on eagles.

The revised rule attempts to accomplish these goals through five-year reviews of the extended 30-year permits, mitigation, and compensation when sites surpass their agreed upon eagle take quotas, adaptive management, and public access to data on eagle fatalities.

“Remarkably, this approach relies exclusively on the for-profit wind industry to self-report bird fatalities, even when such information may prove detrimental to the industry’s bottom line. While some companies may play by the rules, others may not, making this system highly vulnerable to deception. I don’t see how such a system will work to protect eagles,” said Dr. Fenwick.

In addition, Dr. Michael Hutchins, national coordinator for American Bird Conservancy’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign said, “These rules are still voluntary, rather than mandatory, which means that only wind energy companies who choose to work collaboratively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be subject to these requirements. All others will be allowed to continue to build wind facilities until they actually kill an eagle, and we’ll have to rely on the companies themselves to be forthcoming—in our opinion, a highly unlikely scenario in every case.”

Eric Glitzenstein, with the public-interest law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal, which has worked with ABC on efforts to ensure that wind power projects are developed in a bird-friendly fashion, said that the Interior Department "cut legal corners and disregarded public comments in crafting this rule, which is little more than a regulatory subsidy to the wind power industry. We will be reviewing all available legal options to ensure that eagles do not suffer needless death and maiming from this ill-advised and scientifically bankrupt weakening of eagle safeguards. "

A 2004 study prepared for the California Energy Commission estimates that about 95 eagles were being killed annually in one area alone—the wind facilities at Altamont Pass in California. That estimate suggests that over the 30-year operation of those facilities, perhaps as many as 3,000 Golden Eagles may have been killed, with no prosecution by federal officials.

“Eagles are being asked to survive a brutal ‘one-two’ punch. On top of the impacts from the duration of take permits being extended six-fold, the birds will soon face an additional serious threat—a 12-fold increase in wind energy, if federal 2030 targets are achieved. So it is entirely conceivable, and probably even quite likely, that mortality impacts to eagles will get far worse,” Dr. Fenwick said.

The 30-year permit action was originally proposed in April 2012 and provided for a 90-day comment period. ABC and the Conservation Law Center led a response effort and sent joint comments opposing the proposal to FWS in July 2012. The National Park Service opposed the proposed action, along with nearly 120 conservation, wildlife, and animal protection groups including the Sierra Club, National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, National Resources Defense Council, and The Nature Conservancy. Native American groups such as the Hopi Tribe, the Nez Perce Tribe, the Intertribal Council of Arizona, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community have also expressed opposition to the change. In addition, thousands of concerned citizens responded to ABC action alerts on the proposal, writing to the Department of Interior asking that 30-year eagle take permits not be allowed. 


Officers Work Toward Trash Reduction

Patrols take wildlife officers into the far reaching corners and to the popular spots for hunters and anglers. They appreciate conversations and feel kindred to those enjoying the outdoors. A love of nature is the backbone of a wildlife officer’s career. They signed on to uphold the TWRA mission because they care for our resources. So when Marion County wildlife officer Marty Griffith ... (click for more)

Memorial Day Holiday Weekend Is Traditional Start To Tennessee's Summer Boating Season

Memorial Day holiday weekend is regarded as the unofficial start to the summer boating season and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wants to emphasize the use of life jackets while boating in a safe and responsible manner. Annually, the Memorial Day weekend is one of the year’s busiest boating weekends. Last year, there were not any boating-related fatalities over the holiday ... (click for more)

Man Found With Home-Made Explosive Device Near Businesses In Hixson

A man was found with a home-made explosive device outside businesses in Hixson late Tuesday night.   A business was evacuated and portions of Highway 153 and Hamill Road were cordoned off while the device was taken away.   Joshua Redden, 34, was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon, public intoxication, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession ... (click for more)

Weather Service Issues Tornado Watch For Chattanooga Area

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for Hamilton County on Wednesday. Here is the advisory: TORNADO WATCH FROM  1:15PM EDT  WED UNTIL  8PM EDT  WED TN . TENNESSEE COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE ANDERSON BLEDSOE BLOUNT BRADLEY CAMPBELL CLAIBORNE CLAY COCKE CUMBERLAND FENTRESS GRAINGER GREENE HAMBLEN HAMILTON HANCOCK HAWKINS JACKSON JEFFERSON ... (click for more)

Life For Our Ancestors In 1890

May 26-27 is the 1890’s Day Jamboree in Ringgold. I encourage any reader to attend and enjoy that wonderful community. I love having grown up in Northwest Georgia and celebrating our veterans, including both of my grandfathers who served in WWII.  But I also want to describe how the 1890’s were for my ancestors, living here in a singularly turbulent time. Based on, among ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Life With 007

I was 13 when the first of 24 James Bond movies came out and, at a time when my sap was just beginning to rise, I will never forget Ursula Andress stepping out of the sea wearing that white bikini. Our hero walks over to the dripping Honey Ryder – that was her name in “Dr. No” – and she says in the Swiss accent, “Are you looking for shells too?” And the first classic reply of thousands ... (click for more)