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United States of America

Annotated Version of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668)

Statute Details
Printable Version
Citation: 16 U.S.C. 668



Last Checked by Web Center Staff:

Summary:   The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) prohibits any form of taking both bald and golden eagles except as provided by permit.  This annotated version links to the specific issue in a detailed discussion of the Act.  For further discussion of the BGEPA in general, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.


Statute in Full:
 

§ 668 - Bald and golden eagles

(a) Prohibited acts; criminal penalties

Whoever [the term "whoever" applies to Indians],within the United States or any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof, [extent act applies to Indian reservations] without being permitted to do so as provided in this subchapter, shall knowingly [requisite intent under law], or with wanton disregard for the consequences of his act take, possess [must be "willful" possession], sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import [commercial transactions of eagle parts strictly prohibited], at any time or in any manner any bald eagle commonly known as the American eagle or any golden eagle [amended in 1962 to include golden eagles], alive or dead ["dead" includes those having died of natural causes], or any part, nest, or egg thereof of the foregoing eagles, or whoever violates any permit or regulation issued pursuant to this subchapter, shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than one year or both: [penalties increased in 1972 amendment] Provided, That in the case of a second or subsequent conviction for a violation of this section committed after October 23, 1972, such person shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both [enhanced penalty triggered by second violation, not conviction]: Provided further, That the commission of each taking or other act prohibited by this section with respect to a bald or golden eagle shall constitute a separate violation of this section: Provided further, That one-half of any such fine, but not to exceed $2,500, shall be paid to the person or persons giving information which leads to conviction: Provided further, That nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit possession or transportation of any bald eagle, alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof, lawfully taken prior to June 8, 1940 [does not exempt prohibition on commercial sale of pre-existing parts], and that nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit possession or transportation of any golden eagle, alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof, lawfully taken prior to the addition to this subchapter of the provisions relating to preservation of the golden eagle.

(b) Civil penalties

Whoever, within the United States or any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof, without being permitted to do so as provided in this subchapter, shall take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, at any time or in any manner, any bald eagle, commonly known as the American eagle, or any golden eagle, alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof of the foregoing eagles, or whoever violates any permit or regulation issued pursuant to this subchapter, may be assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary of not more than $5,000 for each such violation. Each violation shall be a separate offense. No penalty shall be assessed unless such person is given notice and opportunity for a hearing with respect to such violation. In determining the amount of the penalty, the gravity of the violation, and the demonstrated good faith of the person charged shall be considered by the Secretary. For good cause shown, the Secretary may remit or mitigate any such penalty. Upon any failure to pay the penalty assessed under this section, the Secretary may request the Attorney General to institute a civil action in a district court [action includes civil forfeiture] of the United States for any district in which such person is found or resides or transacts business to collect the penalty and such court shall have jurisdiction to hear and decide any such action. In hearing any such action, the court must sustain the Secretary's action if supported by substantial evidence. [Petitioner can raise challenge to statute for civil action]

(c) Cancellation of grazing agreements

The head of any Federal agency who has issued a lease, license, permit, or other agreement authorizing the grazing of domestic livestock on Federal lands to any person who is convicted of a violation of this subchapter or of any permit or regulation issued hereunder may immediately cancel each such lease, license, permit, or other agreement. The United States shall not be liable for the payment of any compensation, reimbursement, or damages in connection with the cancellation of any lease, license, permit, or other agreement pursuant to this section. [Added in 1972 to provide greater deterrence to ranchers shooting eagles]

As used in this subchapter "whoever" includes also associations, partnerships, and corporations[one court said "whoever" included Indians]; "take" includes also pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb; [Congress envisioned actions broader than traditional hunting and poaching] "transport" includes also ship, convey, carry, or transport by any means whatever, and deliver or receive or cause to be delivered or received for such shipment, conveyance, carriage, or transportation [Strict prohibition on importing and exporting lifted for Indian religious purposes].

§ 668a - Taking and using of the bald and golden eagle for scientific, exhibition, and religious purposes

Whenever, after investigation, the Secretary of the Interior shall determine that it is compatible with the preservation of the bald eagle or the golden eagle to permit the taking, possession, and transportation of specimens thereof for the scientific or exhibition purposes of public museums, scientific societies, and zoological parks, or for the religious purposes of Indian tribes,[inclusion of this part said to abrogate Indian hunting rights] or that it is necessary to permit the taking of such eagles for the protection of wildlife or of agricultural or other interests in any particular locality [one court offended by issuance of depredating permits when religious use restricted], he may authorize the taking of such eagles pursuant to regulations which he is hereby authorized to prescribe: Provided, That on request of the Governor of any State, the Secretary of the Interior shall authorize the taking of golden eagles for the purpose of seasonally protecting domesticated flocks and herds in such State, in accordance with regulations established under the provisions of this section, in such part or parts of such State and for such periods as the Secretary determines to be necessary to protect such interests: Provided further, That bald eagles may not be taken for any purpose unless, prior to such taking, a permit to do so is procured from the Secretary of the Interior: [only those members of federally recognized tribes may be granted permits] Provided further, That the Secretary of the Interior, pursuant to such regulations as he may prescribe, may permit the taking, possession, and transportation of golden eagles for the purposes of falconry, except that only golden eagles which would be taken because of depredations on livestock or wildlife may be taken for purposes of falconry: Provided further, That the Secretary of the Interior, pursuant to such regulations as he may prescribe, may permit the taking of golden eagle nests which interfere with resource development or recovery operations. [this provision applies only to resource recovery operations; individuals are not allowed to take inactive nests]

§ 668c. - Definitions

As used in this subchapter "whoever" includes also associations, partnerships, and corporations [one judge said "whoever" included Indians]; "take" includes also pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb; [Congress envisioned actions broader than traditional hunting and poaching]"transport" includes also ship, convey, carry, or transport by any means whatever, and deliver or receive or cause to be delivered or received for such shipment, conveyance, carriage, or transportation [Strict prohibition on importing and exporting lifted for Indian religious purposes].

§ 668d - Availability of appropriations for Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Moneys now or hereafter available to the Secretary of the Interior for the administration and enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of July 3, 1918 (16 U.S.C. § 703 et seq.), shall be equally available for the administration and enforcement of this subchapter. [prosecutor may charge under either BGEPA or MBTA as well]



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