Leading Bird Group Wants New DOI Secretary To Review Possible Revised Rule Weakening Eagle Protections For Wind Industry

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
- photo by George Gentry, USFWS

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Interior, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) called on the agency to suspend further consideration of a revised rule that would weaken protections provided to eagles pursuant to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, by allowing private companies to apply for an unprecedented 30-year permit to kill these iconic species.

ABC, one of the nation’s leading bird conservation groups, instead called for the rule to be shelved until Sally Jewell, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Interior, has had time to fully review the proposal and evaluate its potential long-term impacts on eagle populations.

“The public places a high value on both Bald and Golden Eagles, two species that have inspired awe, pride, and patriotism in America’s citizens for generations. The Bald Eagle is America’s national symbol and was only removed from the endangered species list in 2007. Thus, this important and highly controversial decision should not be made without the full participation and careful consideration of the new Secretary of the Interior,” said Darin Schroeder, ABC’s vice president of Conservation Advocacy.

The new, far weaker, version of the eagle protection rule was drafted after requests from the wind energy industry, and represents a curious reversal of a FWS decision in 2009. At that time the USFWS wrote, “…the rule limits permit tenure to five years or less because factors may change over a longer period of time such that a take authorized much earlier would later be incompatible with the preservation of the Bald Eagle or the Golden Eagle.”

Currently, wind energy companies and other businesses can apply to FWS for a permit that allows them to unintentionally kill limited numbers of eagles as part of their normal operations if they also commit to a series of compensatory actions to offset this damage. A key part of these “programmatic incidental take permits” granted under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and implemented through additional regulations, is that the permits have to be renewed every five years. The five-year renewal allows the Federal Government to not renew the permit if there is good reason not to. The public is also allowed to take part in the renewal process. However, the revised rule allows FWS to issue permits good for as long as 30 years. By eliminating the renewal process, FWS also eliminates public oversight.

The Feb. 19, letter to DOI from ABC’s Schroeder also charges that invitation-only meetings were held regarding eagles and wind energy: “These meetings were held in response to a letter sent to the Secretary of the Interior last year, and they raise serious questions for the Fish and Wildlife Service related to the Federal Advisory Committee Act and other federal laws. Eagle take permits could affect the interests of many Americans and many industries, including the timber and rail industries, Indian tribes, and many more conservation and scientific organizations than have been allowed to participate in these invitation-only meetings.”

“All of these eagle meetings should have been open to the public. Eagles are too important to the American people for FWS to determine their fate behind closed doors,” said Mr. Schroeder. ABC’s letter requests FWS immediately stop holding the private eagle meetings and publish full transcripts of the eagle meetings that have already been held.


Turkey Hunters Reminded Of Harvest Check-In Procedures

With spring turkey hunting season quickly approaching, sportsmen are reminded of the various methods to check in their birds. All harvested turkeys must be checked in by the end of the calendar day. Turkeys can be checked in on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s website or on the “TWRA On the Go” smartphone app or at a check station. For sportsmen who do not have ... (click for more)

Free Outdoors GA App Is Updated For Hunters

Almost one year since its debut, the free Outdoors GA app receives a new update allowing hunters to check their harvest without needing cell service, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. “We continue to be pleased with this free mobile app that gives both novice and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts’ essential information in the palm ... (click for more)

2 Shot On Rawlings Street Friday Night; 1 In Critical Condition

Two people were shot, Friday night, and one is in critical condition. At approximately  9:56 p.m.  Chattanooga Police officers responded to the 2000 block of Rawlings Street on a report of a person shot. Officers arrived on scene and located one victim lying next to a vehicle suffering from a gunshot wound. A second victim arrived at a local hospital suffering from ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Moving Forward With New $2 Million Fire Station; School Panel To Delve Into Finances; Work Starts On MACC Repair

The Signal Mountain Town Council is in the process of making decisions about a new fire hall to accommodate growth that has taken place in the town since the original fire hall was built. When Signal Mountain is fully built-out, said Vice Mayor Dick Gee, another 700 houses will be added therefore the new building has been designed taking the town’s future needs into consideration. ... (click for more)

Slaxxon Regret

Back in the seventies my three oldest brothers had a buddy named Steve Slack. “Slack” was a star soccer player at Baylor and he grew up on Lookout Mountain, which is where I grew up. He and Jimmy, Henry and Bill went to the University of Virginia where they were roommates in an old, beat up house that was painted pink. Naturally, the place became known as the “Pink Palace” but lest ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Geno: Our ‘Me’ Culture

By almost every measure, Geno Auriemma is the best basketball coach in America. His University of Connecticut women are riding a record 109-game winning streak that dates to Nov. 17, 2016. Stanford barely beat them in overtime 3 years ago, but, before that, they won 41 straight. That means UConn is 153-1 and, in the current 109 streak, they have double-figure wins over the opponents ... (click for more)