Desert bald eagle formally "relisted" by FWS in response to Court order
73 Federal Register 23966 (Thursday, May 1, 2008)(DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; Fish and Wildlife Service; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing the Potential Sonoran Desert Bald Eagle Distinct Population Segment as Threatened Under the Endangered Species Act; Final rule)
Photo of the bald eagle from FWS
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are issuing a final rule to amend the regulations for the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife at 50 CFR 17.11 by designating bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in the Sonoran Desert area of central Arizona as threatened under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We are also reinstating and clarifying the former special rule at 50 CFR 17.41 that applied to threatened members of this species. This action revises the CFR to reflect the demands of a March 6, 2008 court order.
BACKGROUND: On July 9, 2007 (72 FR 37346), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service published the final delisting rule for bald eagles in the lower 48 States... On August 17, 2007, the CBD and the Maricopa Audubon Society filed a motion for summary judgment, requesting the court to make a decision on their January 5, 2007, lawsuit (releated to whether the Sonoran Desert population of bald eagles qualified for listing as a DPS under the Act)… On March 5, 2008, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs. See Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne, CV 07–0038–PHX–MHM (March 6, 2008, D. Ariz.) and related ESAblawg (March 10, 2008). Among other relief, the District Court enjoined the Service’s application of the final delisting rule to the Sonoran Desert population of bald eagles and further ordered FWS to issue its finding on or before December 5, 2008.
ANALYSIS: The rule reflects an interpretation of the CBD petition to list the desert bald eagle, and due to the disjointed nature of some of the desert bald eagle’s breeding habitat, FWS clarified that the Court’s “temporary listing” should only apply in eight southern Arizona counties. The rule will be in effect only until the completion of a more comprehensive 12-month review process on the CBD petition, or until the Court order is stayed or reversed on appeal.