Fish and Wildlife to allow more wind-related eagle deaths

Fish and Wildlife to allow more wind-related eagle deaths

Wind energy projects would be allowed to result in more bald eagle deaths under a new regulation proposed Thursday by the Obama administration.

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on Thursday proposed a rule that would allow four times the eagle deaths than previously allowed by a limit set in 2009.

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It said it was raising the limit because of an increase in the number of bald eagles in the United States, which increases the likelihood of deaths from large wind mills.

“Bald eagle populations have continued to increase throughout the United States, increasing the potential need for permits for activities that may disturb, injure, or kill bald eagles,” the FWS wrote in the Federal Register.

The FWS is proposing to increase the bald eagle take limit to 4,200 birds, up from the current limit of 1,103 that was established in 2009.

The service also noted that the number of wind energy projects across the country has increased, which raises the likelihood of bird deaths.

“There has also been significant expansion within many sectors of the U.S. energy industry, particularly wind energy operations, and much more interest in permitting new long-term operations than was anticipated when the 2009 regulations were promulgated,” the FWS wrote.

Fish and Wildlife is not raising the number of goldan eagle deaths that may occur from wind development, however.

The FWS estimates the current golden eagle population is 40,000, which is well below a healthy population of 73,000 golden eagles. 

“Additional mortality will likely cause the populations to decline to a lower level,” the agency wrote.

“Under our proposed management framework, we would operate under the conservative assumption that there is no sustainable take, and take limits would be zero,” it added.

The public has 60 days to comment.