This is interesting especially in light of the Society’s coat of arms:
The American bald eagle, a national symbol once almost wiped out by hunters and DDT poisoning, has not only survived but is thriving.
The Interior Department will announce on Thursday it is removing the majestic bird from the protection of the Endangered Species Act, capping a four-decade struggle for recovery.
Government biologists have counted nearly 10,000 mating pairs of bald eagles, including at least one pair in each of 48 contiguous states, giving assurance that the bird’s survival is no longer in jeopardy.
The eagle population hit bottom in 1963 when only 417 mating pairs could be documented in the 48 states and its future survival as a species was in doubt.
There were once believed to be as many as a half million bald eagles in North America, predating the Europeans’ arrival. The Continental Congress put the bird onto the country’s official seal in 1782, although Benjamin Franklin preferred the turkey and called the eagle a "bird of bad moral character."
The Interior Department has been mulling over what to do about the bald eagle for eight years since government biologists in 1999 concluded its recovery had been a success.
Earlier this year, a federal court directed Interior to make a decision on the bird’s status by this Friday, acting in a lawsuit by a Minnesota man who complained the government’s delays kept him from developing seven acres that included an eagle’s nest.
Damien Schiff, attorney for Pacific Legal Foundation which represents the developer, said Wednesday the delisting is "a victory for property owners." But he worried a proposed eagle protection plan using another law will still be too restrictive.
Conservationists called the eagle recovery a vindication of the 1973 Endangered Species Act, which has been under attack from property rights and business groups, and the subject of internal review at the Interior Department.
Environmentalists worry changes in implementing the law will make it harder keep plants and animals from disappearing, especially ones lacking the symbolism of the bald eagle.
"No other species has that advantage," says Michael Bean, an endangered species expert at Environmental Defense. "It’s the national symbol."
John Kostyack of the National Wildlife Federation, called the eagle resurgence "truly one of America’s great wildlife success stories" that shows the federal law is needed and can work.
"The rescue of the bald eagle ... ranks among the greatest victories of American conservation," said John Flicker, president of the National Audubon Society, whose group’s annual bird count shows "the eagle has recovered across America."
The bird, first declared endangered in 1967, was not always held with such affection. Over the decades, it was both revered and hated — which almost brought its demise.
A majestic bird with a wing span that can extend more than seven feet and powerful talons that allow it to swoop down and grab its prey — be it fish in a mountain lake or a rabbit or raccoon — was viewed by many as a scavenger, nuisance and dangerous predator.
It was hunted for its feathers, shot from airplanes, the subject of a 50-cent bounty in Alaska, poisoned in some states and fed to hogs in others. Congress passed a law in 1940, still on the books, that made killing a bald eagle illegal.
But the bird’s decline accelerated, thanks to DDT, the insecticide that began to be widely used in the 1940s to control mosquitoes. DDT seeped into lakes and streams and into fish, the eagle’s favorite food, harming adult birds and their eggs.
When DDT was banned in 1972, the eagle’s recovery began, slowly.
"George Wallace, vice president and chief conservation officer for the American Bird Conservancy, recalls when he was still in high school in the 1970s he saw his first bald eagle on Plum Island in Massachusetts. It was a rarity.
"Seeing a bald eagle in the mid ‘70s was a big deal," he said Wednesday. "It was something you really looked forward to seeing. Now, to be honest, bald eagles are pretty common."
I have only seen one Bald Eagle in the wild, just north of Lake Okeechobee a few years ago. I hate to see the bird have reduced protection. Property owners who have fought against the law certainly cannot be up to anything good if the Bald Eagle and the law stands in their way. Surely the law would not stop farming and grazing on the adjacent land, so one must assume they simply want to develop the land for resale or business, as if we need any more new subdivisions or strip malls.
The Bald Eagle is indeed an impressive, majestic bird. Just two weeks ago, I went to Dover, TN to visit my grandparents and we stopped by Ft. Donelson, which is home to a nesting pair and three young ones. We started looking for the birds and then we say them perched on a branch not 25 feet above us.
My uncle owns some property near there on a river and he has spotted another nesting pair in the area. He is hoping that they will establish a nest nearby since they return to the same nest year after year.
Very good. The bald eagle is a very majestic, noble looking bird. Is it only found in the US, or Canada as well? I am thinking the latter, since animals don’t usually restrict themselves to man-made political borders :D.
Though I hope this doesn’t start another decline of the bald eagle.
we have many of these birds here. colorado is one of those places where there are far more than you would imagine for a bird that is on the ESL.
i have mixed feelings. i have no need to hunt it, nor destroy it. in every rancher i know, and i know three personally, wouldn’t move to striking one down even if it began to hurt the ranch, which they dont really…help it actually…in colorado they love to dive down and grab snakes, gofers, etc, which are more of a real pain than any eagle ever was. so, from my perspective they’ll do just fine in colorado even if taken off of the ESL.
on the other hand there are a few idiots who will poach it. of course when out hunting one sees poachers, or the effects of poaching, all the time despite mounds and mounds of laws and paperwork aimed to combat it. i suspect even though it will be removed from the ESL in colorado it will be a non-huntable species of bird and will therefore still have some sort of protection…of course that does not stop the poachers…only those who would obey the law to begin with.
hurray for the bald eagle and its recovery.
Strange as it may seem, I occasionally see bald eagles here in the Washington area, usually near the marshes along the Potomac, but not long ago I looked out my office window in SW Washington DC and one was flying by not 50 ft away. I also saw one perched in a tree in front of the Pentagon near the river one day.
I also saw one perched in a tree in front of the Pentagon near the river one day.
get a pic? that would’ve been a perfect pic frankly.
get a pic? that would’ve been a perfect pic frankly.
Undoubtedly, but the other drivers on the George Washington Parkway probably wouldn’t have liked the erratic driving resulting from trying to take a picture at 45 mph.
David Pritchard;46726 wrote:
I have only seen one Bald Eagle in the wild, just north of Lake Okeechobee a few years ago.
I’ve seen a number of them over the years including in a (very large!) nest.
I don’t think ‘safe" is the term that should be used. Habitat for the eagle is decreasing and the Arizona bald eagle subspecies is still very small, and it will lose protection with the recent action. I think the "endangered" listing worked because it limited development into habitat, something that land owners hated. Now implicit limits on habitat destruction are gone with the delisting.
I remember as a young teen in the late 1970s my family took the inside passage cruise to Alaska. I saw so many bald eagles I couldn’t believe they were endangered. But of course, that is an area with little human encroachment.
Good to see that this majestic bird have made a recovery. Here in Sweden we had a similar case with a Relative of the Bald Eagle the Sea Eagle, which where on the brink of extinction due to Dioxine posioning. The Sea Eagle was however saved by Operation Sea Eagle and has made a recovery in recent years.
The Bald Eagle population has been on the rise for several years in the Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan area. Geographically known as the great black swamp this area has been mostly drained over two centruies, destroying habitat for eagles, as well as other birds of prey. The ESL has protected the last remnants of habitat, allowing the chance for the Eagles’ return. While I am happy to see the recovery of the Eagle, I am disappointed to see it removed from the ESL because in this area they are still in danger.
I am a construction worker in the energy industry, and the economics of this is that most of my work is in the Power Plants and Oil Refineries that line the shore of Lake Erie…Prime Eagle Habitat. I work on towers and platforms hundreds of feet in the air nearly every day, and I am always on the lookout for Eagles and Falcons. Still in eleven years I have seen many eagle nests, but I have seen live eagles only a couple of times. Furthermore, my own perch allows me a view of the whole east Lake Erie area from Detroit, MI to Sandusky, Ohio. I am saddened to see just how little eagle habitat remains. I hope removal from the ESL doesn’t lead to further habitat destruction.
On a brighter note…as for falcons… Oddly enough a falcon has taken up residence at the coal burner where I currently work. I see this beautiful bird every couple of weeks, and it is a joy every time.
Very good. The bald eagle is a very majestic, noble looking bird. Is it only found in the US, or Canada as well?
I was always told that there were more bald eagles in B.C. than in all of the lower 48 states combined.
Don’t know if it’s true, but there’s certainly a lot of them on Vancouver Island.
I am a construction worker in the energy industry, and the economics of this is that most of my work is in the Power Plants and Oil Refineries that line the shore of Lake Erie…Prime Eagle Habitat. I work on towers and platforms hundreds of feet in the air nearly every day, and I am always on the lookout for Eagles and Falcons.
May I suggest a motto for your coat-of-arms should you not already have one, HOLD TIGHT.
Here in Ontario, especially along the Grand River where I live, the eagles have returned in recent years. One flew through my back yard and perched in a large white pine. It was the first time I had encountered such a magnificent bird, indeed majestic bird! One can understand why it was chosen as the supporter for the newly created american "empire". A native eagle (in contrast to the ancient european imperial eagle) was a brilliant choice. Other wonderful raptors have also flourished here as the river and environment for them has improved. A pair of osprey have built a twiggy aerie just down the road beside the Grand. This pleases me as one is featured in the crest assigned for my lay descendants, the osprey being my favourite bird.
Heraldically the eagle has appeared in Canadian heraldry, including the arms of a former Prime Minister (a Bald Eagle) and closer to home in the arms granted to the City of Toronto after a forced amalgamation with neighbouring municipalities a few years ago. Initially the eagle in the crest of Toronto was to be a Bald Eagle as representative of the original native population, but after vociferous opposition it was changed to a Golden Eagle. Those who objected felt the Bald Eagle too American so a swift alteration of colour seemed to satisfy their sense of nationalism, but when rendered in monochrome who can tell what type of eagle it be. I suspect these were the same people who opposed the retention of monarchial symbols from the historical and venerable arms of the former City of Toronto. The resulting achievement is to say the least somewhat pedestrian (though not unattractive) and certainly politically correct, after all who could possibly be offended by a large letter "T". No royal lions prowling across the shield and no "Yanky" eagles either! So Canadian!