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Conserving the Nature of America
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
History of Bald Eagle Decline, Protection and Recovery
The Bald Eagle's recovery is an American success story. Forty years ago, the bald eagle, our national symbol, was in danger of extinction throughout most of its range. Habitat destruction and degradation, illegal shooting, and the contamination of its food source, due to use of the pesticide DDT, decimated the eagle population. Habitat protection afforded by the Endangered Species Act, the federal government’s banning of DDT, and conservation actions taken by the American public helped Bald Eagles make a remarkable recovery. Bald eagles no longer need Endangered Species Act protection because their population is protected, healthy, and growing.
Laws that Protect the Bald Eagle
Before the Bald Eagle was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, it was protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
1940 - Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (University of Michigan)
The bald eagle first gained federal protection in 1940 when Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act. It was later amended to include golden eagles and renamed the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
1966: Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 authorizes land acquisition to conserve “selected species of native fish and wildlife.”
1969: Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 expands on the 1966 act, authorizing the compilation of a list of animals “threatened with worldwide extinction” and prohibits their importation without a permit. Crustaceans and mollusks are included for protection, along with mammals, fish, birds, and amphibians.
1972 - Eagles gain protection under Migratory Bird Treaty Act
The taxonomic family that includes bald eagles gained protection by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1972 when the United States and Mexico agreed to a supplement to the migratory bird convention they first signed in 1936. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is the law that implements treaties for the protection of shared migratory bird resources signed by the United States with Canada, Japan, Mexico and Russia.
1972 - DDT banned in United States
William D. Ruckelshaus, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, issued an order canceling nearly all remaining Federal registrations of DDT products.
1973- Endangered Species Act signed into law; Bald Eagle included on list as Endangered
1986 - Recovery Plan for the Pacific Bald Eagle (PDF)
1995 - Final Rule to Change Status of Bald Eagle from Endangered to Threatened
1999 - Proposal to Delist
In 1999 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published, in the Federal Register, a Proposed Rule to remove the Bald Eagle from Endangered Species Act protection. Below is a link to the Federal Register Proposed Rule and a summary of the Rule that we prepared.
2006 - Re-opened comment period on proposal to delist
2007 - Final Rule to Delist
The Bald Eagle was removed from the list of Threatened and Endangered Species on August 9, 2007.
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