Valerie Fellows, 202-208-3008
Today is one for the history books – it’s the day the bald eagle officially soars off the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). After plummeting to nearly 400 pairs in the lower 48 states in 1963, the population has rebounded to more than 10,000 pairs today. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced the remarkable recovery of our national symbol in Washington, D.C., on June 28.
The legal protections afforded by the ESA, along with the crucial decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the general use of the pesticide DDT in 1972, provided the springboard for recovery. Other efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners included captive breeding programs, reintroductions, law enforcement measures, protection of habitat around nest sites, and land purchase and preservation activities.
In the Midwest, eagle numbers are among the highest in the continental United States, with Minnesota leading the lower 48 states with 1,312 breeding pairs. Wisconsin’s population is the nation’s third largest outside Alaska, with 1,065 pairs.
The Service will work with state wildlife agencies to monitor bald eagles for at least five years. If it appears that eagles again need the protection of the ESA, the Service can propose to relist the species. The bald eagle will continue to be protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
For more information on bald eagles, please visit our web page at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/BaldEagle.htm
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.