Endangered Species Handbook

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Eagle Protection Act

     Passed in 1940, this Act makes it illegal to import, export, or take Bald or Golden Eagles or to sell, purchase, or barter parts, nests, eggs or products made from the animals. "Taking" encompasses pursuing, shooting, shooting at, poisoning, wounding, killing, capturing, trapping, collecting, molesting, or disturbing.  Permits may be granted for scientific, exhibitory, or Indian religious purposes.  However, no permits may be issued for the import, export, or commercialization of eagles.  Misdemeanor violations may result in fines of up to $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for organizations, and one year imprisonment.  For felony violations, fines of up to $250,000 and $500,000 for individuals and organizations, respectively, and two years imprisonment may result.  Persons providing information leading to the conviction of violators of the Eagle Protection Act may be eligible for cash rewards. 
     This legislation provides additional protection for the nation's two native eagle species, beyond the protection offered by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and, in the case of the Bald Eagle, the Endangered Species Act.  Numerous prosecutions have taken place of persons poisoning, shooting and otherwise harming these birds.  Many sheep ranchers in the West, wrongly convinced that Golden Eagles are predators of lambs, have poisoned and shot hundreds of these birds.  Bald Eagles have been shot for an active trade in Indian artifacts, such as feather headdresses.  The Bald Eagle has been proposed for removal from the Endangered Species Act even though its populations remain at a fraction of original numbers and mortality in some areas is high.  Should the Bald Eagle be removed from the Endangered Species Act, the Eagle Protection Act will remain a strong protection.

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