OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public comments on a proposal to change the state’s protection listing for bald eagles to a “sensitive” species.
Currently listed by the state as “threatened,” the proposed change in listing status reflects a rebound in Washington’s eagle numbers in recent years. Bald eagles were removed from national endangered species lists last August.
Under the sensitive species designation, land use activities in bald eagle nesting areas would still require eagle habitat-management plans.
Written comments on the listing proposal are due by Dec. 4, and should be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to: Endangered Species Section Manager, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. Verbal comments may be made at the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Dec. 8 meeting in Port Angeles.
In addition, written comments may be made by Nov. 19 on the proposal’s Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). SEPA comments should be mailed to Teresa Eturaspe, SEPA Coordinator, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia WA 98501-1091, or emailed to email@example.com
Bald eagle numbers have increased dramatically since use of the pesticide DDT was banned nationally in 1972 and laws were enacted to protect nest and roost sites. The state’s bald eagle population climbed from barely more than 100 nesting pairs in 1980 to 840 pairs by 2005.
A status report on the bald eagle is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/endangered/.htm (see “status reports”), and may be viewed in print form at WDFW’s Olympia headquarters and regional offices. To obtain a copy of the status report or the SEPA Declaration of Non-Significance, call (360) 902-2515; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1984, the Washington Legislature passed laws requiring bald eagle habitat plans for forest practices and other land-use actions that could impact bald eagle nests and roosts. The state’s bald eagle protection rule (WAC 232-12-292) requires a habitat-management plan for activities on state and private lands that could disturb eagle nests and roosts. More than 2,900 management plans have been signed by Washington landowners since 1986.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the bald eagle from the federal list of threatened and endangered species last August. Bald eagles and their nests are still protected by the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act also prohibits disturbing eagles.