bald eagle

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is recommending that the Chokecherry-Sierra Madre wind farm near Saratoga receive a so-called “eagle take” permit that would allow it to kill 1 bald eagle and up to 14 golden eagles a year.

In exchange, the Power Company of Wyoming, which owns the project, would need to pay to retrofit a number of power poles that can electrocute eagles. The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that as a result of those mitigation measures, there will be no net loss of eagle population in the local area or the region.

An environmental group is suing the federal government over eagle take permits. The permits allow wind farms to kill a certain number of protected bald and golden eagles annually without penalty. In December, the Fish and Wildlife Service changed the duration of the permits from five to 30 years in response to industry lobbying.  Wind companies said the shorter period didn’t provide enough certainty for investors.

The Endangered Species Act turned 40 this week, and two birds from Wyoming are ranked among the biggest successes of the law.  The Endangered Species Coalition says the peregrine falcon and bald eagle made their top-ten list. Derek Goldman of the Coalition says bald eagles can be seen regularly in some parts of Wyoming, but he adds that it didn’t happen by accident.

“We can see bald eagles almost everywhere now, but at one point 30 years ago, DDT and killing of eagles had really dwindled their numbers.”

A federal judge must decide a dispute between two Wyoming Indian tribes ... over whether eagles may be killed on the Wind River Reservation for religious purposes.

Judge Alan Johnson of Cheyenne heard arguments Friday in a lawsuit the Northern Arapaho Tribe is pressing against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The federal agency issued a permit to the Northern Arapaho this spring specifying the tribe could kill two bald eagles for its annual Sun Dance. It was the nation's first bald eagle permit for religious purposes.