Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Tom Bauer in Bangkok
October 13, 2004
International Trade Restrictions Eased for Bald Eagles


(BANGKOK, Thailand) - Member nations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) approved a U.S. proposal to ease international trade restrictions on bald eagles, reflecting their improved status in the lower 48 states.

The only practical effect of the decision at the 13th biannual Conference of the Parties to transfer the bald eagle from Appendix I to Appendix II of the convention will be to make it less burdensome for Native American tribes in the United States and Canada to obtain the necessary permits to exchange eagle feathers and parts for religious purposes.

"The downlisting of the bald eagle represents a true success story under CITES," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior David P. Smith, alternate head of the U.S. delegation. "We are pleased that the delegates were able to recognize the dramatic comeback of our national symbol."

The United States was praised on the floor of the conference by the delegate from Switzerland, who also serves as chair of the Animals Committee of CITES. He stated that the United States should be applauded for their highly successful conservation efforts and noted that the downlisting to Appendix II is what CITES is all about.

A CITES-regulated species may be included in one of three appendices to the Convention.

  • Appendix I includes species where it is determined that any commercial trade is detrimental to the survival of the species. Therefore, no commercial trade is allowed in Appendix I species. Noncommercial trade in such species is allowed if it does not jeopardize the species? survival in the wild. Permits are required for the exportation and importation of Appendix I species.
  • Appendix II includes species where it has been determined that commercial trade may be detrimental to the survival of the species if that trade is not strictly controlled. Trade in these species is regulated through the use of export permits.
  • Appendix III includes species where there is some question as to the potential negative impact of commercial trade. Permits are used to monitor trade in native species. Any member may place a native species on Appendix III.

The proposal reflects the dramatic recovery of the bald eagle in the lower 48 states and the strong legal and regulatory protections in the United States, where it is currently listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Bald eagle populations in Alaska never required the protection of the Act.

Bald eagles in the United States also are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940, the Lacey Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These laws prohibit commercial trade in bald eagles and almost all non-commercial trade collection or possession of bald eagles or their feathers or parts will still require a permit in the United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues permits only for bona fide scientific research, display of live animals in zoos, educational purposes with non-releasable birds, and religious purposes by Native Americans.

In Canada and Mexico, the bald eagle will continue to receive protections similar to those in the United States. Internationally, the bald eagle will still be subject to the protections of the CITES Appendix II listing.




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