The national symbol, near extinction 40 years ago, can now soar again as one of the great success stories of the Endangered Species Act.
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne made the announcement at a June 28 ceremony near the Jefferson Memorial. The ceremony came a day before a court-directed deadline for his department to decide the eagle's status.
The bald eagle, when it became the national icon in 1782, had a population of more than 100,000. But hunting, poisoning from waterfowl hit by lead shotgun pellets and toxic chemicals -- particularly DDT -- decimated the eagle's numbers. In 1963, only 400 nesting pairs could be found in the lower 48 states.
With the banning of DDT and federal protection, the numbers have steadily increased.
Today, government officials have documented about 10,000 pairs of bald eagles.
While no longer declared endangered, the bald eagle will continue to be protected by a 1940 federal law that will make it illegal to kill the bird as well as state statutes, The Associated Press reported.
Bringing the bald eagle back from the verge of extinction should be considered a national victory. That the symbol of our country is safe and strong again should be a source of pride for all citizens.
We hope this is the beginning of a trend for other endangered species
Bringing a symbol of our country back from the verge of extinction should be considered a national victory.
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