Open Spaces : Bald Eagle

Bald Eagles Recover from Sea to Shining Sea

By Brynn Walling, USFWS

From sea to shining sea -- that’s the range of the American Bald Eagle.

And the recovery of this bird is one of our greatest success stories to date.

In 1782, when the bald eagle was named our national symbol, the eagle population was approximately 100,000. Then, in the mid-1800’s, waterfowl and shorebird populations began to decline. Since the bald eagle is at the top of the food chain, this had a major effect on their population too. There was a fight for food.

bald_eagle(Photo Couresy Arthur Nelson)


In 1940 the bald eagle was threatened with extinction. Congress stepped in and passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act, protecting them from poaching and making it illegal to kill a bald eagle.

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Real-Life Mascots for Conservation and the Gridiron

We love our football here at Open Spaces.

With football season in full swing, we probably don’t have to remind you that team mascots play a big part in establishing a team’s identity. Did you ever stop to think that nearly all professional teams have wildlife inspired mascots? Did you also know that some of those wildlife are currently facing—or have faced in the past—serious threats to healthy population levels?  

It’s true! While we love them all, we're spotlighting two wildlife inspired mascots that we think are ideal representatives for their respective cities and teams. Both display amazing physical attributes while showing tremendous resilence in the face of adversitiy--great qualities for any football team.  

So, which mascots are they.......

Touchdown!  Credit: Aaron Webb

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Happy 235th America!

Bald eagle in Flight
Bald eagle soaring in flight from the USFWS Pacific Region Download.

We hope our series on climate change gave you a better understanding about how climate impacts nature across the country.  While that series is now over, the Open Spaces blog has just begun!  Visit often for new stories about what we’re doing in the Service to conserve and protect wildlife and their habitats.

In honor of our nation’s birthday, we dedicate today’s post to an American icon and one of our greatest conservation success stories in the Service: the bald eagle.  In our nation’s history, the eagle has always been a shining symbol of freedom and strength, but the story of this majestic bird has not always been as bright.

A little more than a half-century ago, the bald eagle was facing extinction.  Widespread use of DDT, loss of natural habitat, and overhunting were major factors contributing to a massive population decline of the eagle.  In 1967 it was declared an endangered species, and shortly after, the EPA banned the use of DDT. Successful efforts to restore eagle habitats and restrict hunting allowed populations of the birds to steadily increase, and on August 9th, 2007 the bald eagle was officially delisted and declared recovered, healthy and growing.

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Last updated: June 21, 2012