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. 


Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Here are upcoming news and events from Outdoor Chattanooga: TN Aquarium Adventure Canoe on S. Chick Creek June 25 Join Outdoor Chattanooga and the TN Aquarium for a Canoe Adventure on Sat., June 25 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Dr. Bernie Kuhajda of the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI) and Outdoor Chattanooga's guide staff will lead this one-of-a-kind canoeing ... (click for more)

Lula Lake Land Trust Changes Nonprofit Filing Status

Lula Lake Land Trust announced on Friday that it has changed its IRS nonprofit 501(c)(3) filing status from private foundation to public charity. Lula Lake Land Trust continues to operate as a tax exempt charitable organization with the best interests of Lookout Mountain and Chattanooga in mind. “Going from private foundation to public charity will help us grow and be a vital ... (click for more)

County Commission Gives Up Fight On $900,000 In Discretionary Funds

County Commission members have given up the fight for the annual $900,000 in discretionary funds. Commission Chairman Chester Bankston said there was not enough money available after requests from a number of agencies and departments were cut to balance the budget without a tax increase. Commissioner Sabrena Smedley said the fact that commissioners can no longer allot the ... (click for more)

Athens, Tn., Man Killed And Several Others Injured In 2 Wrecks Near Ooltewah Exit Of I-75

One person was killed and several others injured in two wrecks early Wednesday morning on I-75 northbound at exit 11.   The victim was James Newman, 66, of Athens, Tn.   Northbound lanes were closed while emergency crews worked both accidents. Traffic was rerouted to Old Lee Highway to avoid the accident scene.   Traffic was backed up for an extended ... (click for more)

A Disturbing Trend At Exit 11 - And Response (2)

So, am I the first to notice a trend?   How many wrecks does exit 11 need before anyone asks "whats up with that?"  I have lost count of the wrecks that continue to happen, even after last year's awful loss of life (which I believe 51 percent of the blame should fall on the THP officer on duty).  The problem with this section of interstate are sight lines ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What You Leave Behind

Randy Travis, one of the best at singing country songs that has ever been, had a song about three people who got killed when an 18-wheeler missed a stop sign. There was a farmer and a teacher, a hooker and a preacher on this bus and Randy tells us: “One's headed for vacation, one for higher education, An' two of them were searchin' for lost souls.” In that wonderful song, the ... (click for more)