Eagle’s resurgence shows we can prevent extinctions
The comeback of the American bald eagle is a success story for laws that protect plants and animals, even obscure ones.
Forty-three years ago, only 417 nesting pairs of the birds were known to exist in the 48 contiguous states. Today, the number is up to 7,066.
Thirty-nine years ago, the bird was officially declared an endangered species. Pesticides were one of its biggest threats, and in 1972 the Environmental Protection Agency banned most uses of DDT. Government recovery efforts included importing eggs from Canada.
The eagle was reclassified as threatened, rather than endangered, in 1995, and now the Interior Department is preparing to take it off the endangered species list entirely. The department has drafted voluntary guidelines for landowners, land managers and others. It is proposing prohibitions on disrupting the eagle's breeding, feeding or shelter or causing injury, death or nest abandonment.
Most people we know get a thrill from seeing a bald eagle. This majestic bird, after all, has been our national emblem since 1782. Its free flight symbolizes our own freedom.
The eagle's success story is a reminder that the often-controversial Endangered Species Act serves an important purpose, and that people and businesses sometimes must make sacrifices and alter behavior in order to protect plants and animals. These include many species that are not as popular or well-known as the bald eagle.