Alexander to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Don’t Give Wind Developers 30-Year License to Kill Bald Eagles

Says proposed extension of eagle take permits could allow Big Wind to kill 3 percent of the nation’s bald eagles each year

Posted on August 4, 2016

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2016 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today asked U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe to scrap a plan to extend the length of eagle take permits, saying the U.S. should be protecting bald eagles, not extending the number of years wind producers can kill the nation’s symbol of “freedom and sovereignty.”

“The bald eagle is a symbol of the spirit of freedom and sovereignty of the United States. We should be increasing efforts to protect bald eagles instead of handing out killing permits to wind developers,” Alexander wrote in a letter sent today.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues permits to certain companies or people which, during the course of otherwise legal activity, incidentally cause the deaths of bald eagles. Otherwise, killing a bald eagle is a federal offense punishable by up to two years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 for a felony conviction. U.S. Fish and Wildlife is seeking to extend the length of these eagle take permits from five years to 30 years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 90 percent of open applications for eagle take permits are for wind resource areas.

“The proposed revisions would set the annual eagle take limit at 4,200 bald eagles. According to the proposed rule, there are only 72,434 bald eagles in the continental United States and 70,544 bald eagles in Alaska,” Alexander wrote. “In other words, these proposed revisions could allow over 5 percent of bald eagles in the continental United States and nearly 3 percent of bald eagles nationwide to be legally killed by giant wind turbines every year.”

Sen. Alexander’s full letter to Director Ashe is below:

 

Aug. 4, 2016

 

Dan Ashe

Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Department of the Interior

5275 Leesburg Pike, 2N035

Falls Church, VA 22041-380

 

Dear Director Ashe:

I am writing to express serious concerns regarding the proposed changes to the issuance of permits for eagle incidental takings and taking of eagle nests.

The bald eagle is a symbol of the spirit of freedom and sovereignty of the United States. We should be increasing efforts to protect bald eagles instead of handing out killing permits to wind developers. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s own estimates, 90% of open eagle take permit applications are for wind resources areas.

Yet, instead of protecting eagles, the proposed revisions seek to increase “eagle take permits” from 5 to 30 years. Increasing the length of permitting by six times has serious consequences for eagles. Eliza Savage, the Eagle Program Manager for the Division of Migratory Bird Management, said that “the [30-year] permits will be inherently less protective for eagles than 5-year permits that require, upon renewal, the project proponent to implement any known measures to reduce take, many of which would not have been known when the original permit was issued.”

The proposed revisions would set the annual eagle take limit at 4,200 bald eagles. According to the proposed rule, there are only 72,434 bald eagles in the continental United States and 70,544 bald eagles in Alaska. In other words, these proposed revisions would allow over 5% of bald eagles in the continental United States and nearly 3% of bald eagles nationwide to be legally killed by giant wind turbines every year.

I strongly urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider the proposed changes and keep the length of eagle take permits at five years in order to better protect our nation’s eagle population.

 

Sincerely,

 

Lamar Alexander

United States Senator

###

For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.

To stay up-to-date on the senator’s latest actions, follow him on Twitter and YouTube.