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The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (“Act”) is a U.S. federal legislation that bans the taking or possession of and commerce in bald and golden eagles. The Act includes certain exceptions to this. The provisions of the Act are found under 16 USCS 668-668c. This Act has been amended several times since its enactment in 1940.
The Act prohibits the taking of bald eagles including their parts, nests, or eggs without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior. Section of the Act defines "take" as "pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb." The Act also provides criminal penalties for persons who "take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, at any time or any manner, any bald eagle ... [or any golden eagle], alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof."
The Act imposes criminal and civil penalties on any person, associations, partnerships and corporations in the U.S. or within its jurisdiction who (unless excepted):
Takes, possesses, sells, purchases, barters, offers to sell or purchase or barter, transports, exports or imports at any time or in any manner a bald or golden eagle that is alive or dead, or any part, nest or egg of these eagles.
Violates any permit or regulations issued under the Act.
A violation of the Act can result in a fine or imprisonment for one year, or both, for a first offense. Penalties increase substantially for additional offenses, and a second violation of this Act is a felony.
Authorized Department of Interior employees who witness a violation of the Act can arrest the violator without a warrant and take the person to an officer or court. They can also execute warrants to enforce the Act and conduct searches. Any federal judge or magistrate can issue warrants upon probable cause.
The Secretary of the Interior can enter into cooperative agreements with state fish and wildlife agencies or other appropriate authorities to facilitate enforcement of the Act, and can delegate enforcement authority to state law enforcement personnel as appropriate.