Use this page to understand and remain compliant with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and Migratory Bird Treraty Act.

Bald & Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act)

The Eagle Act makes it illegal to take (kill, wound, pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, capture, trap, collect, molest, or disturb) bald or golden eagles. Disturb is defined in the Eagle Act as "to agitate or bother a bald or golden eagle to a degree that caused, or is likely to cause:

  • Injury to an eagle.
  • A decrease in its productivity, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior.
  • Nest abandonment, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior."

Avoid and minimize impacts to bald and golden eagles by following the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines.

Use the Bald Eagle form (doc 108 kb) and instructions (pdf 97 kb) to assess the project's potential impacts to bald and golden eagles, and to document compliance with the Eagle Act.

When to apply for a permit

If your project can’t comply with the Eagle Act (for example, your project won’t be able to meet the distance or timing restrictions to comply with the management guidelines), you may need a permit. Contact the Fish & Wildlife Program Manager if you think you need a permit. 

In general, routine activities such as maintenance of existing facilities would not need to be permitted unless the activity resulted in a significantly different use intensity and would increase the likelihood eagles will be disturbed.

Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)

The MBTA protects all migratory avian species with the exception of European starlings, non-native pigeons, Eurasian collared dove, and house sparrows. Under this law, it is illegal to "pursue, hunt, take, capture (or) kill" migratory birds. The USFWS implements and enforces the MBTA. Similarly, Washington State has a law that makes it illegal to take protected birds.

Project biologists evaluate the impacts of the project on migratory birds during preliminary design. If a project has the potential to impact nesting birds, the WSDOT project biologist or consultant must prepare a bird management plan that includes measures to avoid and minimize disturbance. Contact the Fish & Wildlife Program Manager early in the process to determine if your project is covered under WSDOT's general MBTA permit.