Federal judge orders return of ESA protection to a "distinct population segement" of bald eagles in Arizona

The biggest significance of this story is that the federal judge is not buying the “Kempthorne doctrine” that the term “distinct population segment” of the ESA means almost nothing.

Federal District Judge Mary Murguia thinks it does, and she reversed the FWS’s 2006 bald eagle delisting decision as applies to desert-nesting bald eagles, calling it ”arbitrary and capricious, and contrary to law.” When an agency loses a case for this stated reason, it is a major legal rejection because judges defer to “agency expertise” when the issue is at all close. The agency did what did, it appears, because they “got their marching orders” from Washington.

Judge Orders Renewed Protection for Desert Bald Eagle. Environment News Service.






  1. Dave Smith Avatar
    Dave Smith

    This is good news because AZ bald eagles nest in winter, typically on water, and AZ rivers and lakes (reservoirs) get a lot of recreational use by people who are not always aware that their presence may spook the eagles. The AZ Bald Eagle NestWatch Program helps protect the birds from excessive disturbance.

  2. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    Yeah, as an person living in AZ I applaud what this Judge did and the work of all involved in saving our Eagles, at least we have a fighting chance, and yes, yesterday as I was 4 bying in the back country by Canyon lake, they have signs on the roads and they are closed, fine of 2,500.00 to even drive by the nesting sites! YEAH!!!! now we need to convince the hunters out here to use non lead bullets, they are stubborn out here, they don’t want California laws to be in AZ, too bad so sad is what I say to them, only cost a few bucks more for the non lead bullets!

  3. vicki Avatar

    This is a great thing. I remember when I was young, we learned thatthe bald eagle numbers in Arizona were declining because the number of power lines being put up in their nesting areas were increasing. (Electricity has always carried a high price.) The eagles would nest a top the power poles and large junction boxes. To an eagle the tall T shaped logs would make for a perfect nesting site. Sadly though, the electricity in close proximity to the eggs would cause the shells to be weak. The eggs would crack or not develope because of the ill-formed shells. Many of the eggs would be found unhatched, or even kicked out of the nest.
    The eagles finding ways to nest is a major stepping stone. Now having those areas declared protected is a big hurdle to have over come. I am encouraged by the progress.
    Atleast the nests aren’t onto of electrical poles, and they are in an area that could allow for people to enjoy the sight of eagles soaring over head.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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