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Front Page » July 5, 2007 » Local News » U.S. Interior Department Removes Bald Eagle from Endanger...
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U.S. Interior Department Removes Bald Eagle from Endangered Species List

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Last week, the United States Department of the Interior announced the removal of the bald eagle from the nation's list of threatened and endangered species.

After nearly disappearing from the U.S. decades ago, the bald eagle is currently flourishing at locations across the nation and no longer needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

"Today I am proud to announce: the eagle has returned," commented U.S. Interior Secretary Kirk Kempthorne during a June 28 ceremony at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. "In 1963, the lower 48 states were home to barely 400 nesting pairs of bald eagles. Today, after decades of conservation effort, they are home to some 10,000 nesting pairs, a 25-fold increase in the 40 years."

Kempthorne emphasized the ongoing commitment of the U.S. Interior Department and the federal government to the eagle's continued success.

The interior secretary pointed out that the species will continue to be protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The federal laws prohibit taking, killing, selling or otherwise harming eagles, the birds' nests or eggs.

"After years of careful study, public comment and planning, the department of the interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are confident in the future security of the American Bald Eagle," said Kempthorne. "From this point forward, we will work to ensure that the eagle never again needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act."

Earlier last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service clarified the federal agency's regulations implementing the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and published a set of national management guidelines.

The measures are designed to provide Americans with clear guidance on ensuring that actions taken on private property are consistent with the eagle protection migratory bird acts.

In addition, the national wildlife service is accepting public comments on a proposal to establish a permit program under the protection act that would allow a limited take of bald and golden eagles.

Any authorized takes would be consistent with the purpose of the protection act, ensuring that bald and golden eagle populations will remain healthy and sustainable, indicated federal officials.

The removal of the bald eagle from the endangers and threatened wildlife list will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Upon delisting, the wildlife service will continue to work with state agencies to monitor eagles for at least five years, as required by the Endangered Species Act.

If it appears that the bald eagle needs protection, the federal agency can propose to relist the species.

Concurrently with the June 28 announcement, the national wildlife service made the federal agency's draft post-delisting monitoring plan available and solicited public comment for 90 days.

Carbon County residents may mail comments to Bald Eagle Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan Comments, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Rock Island Field Office, 1511 47th Avenue, Moline, Ill 61265.

Public comments may also be transmitted electronically to or by following the instructions at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: .

More information about the bald eagle and the post-delisting monitoring plan is available to local residents with Internet access on the federal agency's bald eagle website at .

The bald eagle initially gained federal protection in 1940, explained the U.S. Interior Department officials. The species was later given additional protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Soon after passage of the act, the populations of bald eagles stabilized or increased in the majority of the regions in the country.

However, the bald eagle population fell into steep nationwide decline in later decades, due primarily to the widespread use of the pesticide DDT after World War II, continued the interior department representatives.

The pesticide accumulated in the eagles and caused the birds to lay eggs with weakened shells, decimating the population at locations across the nation.

Concerns about the bald eagle resulted in the species protection in 1967 under the predecessor to the Endangered Species Act.

The bald eagle was one of the original species protected by the ESA when the federal guideline was enacted in 1973, pointed out the U.S. officials.

The federal statutes, along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decision to ban the general use of DDT in 1972, provided the springboard for the national wildlife service and the federal agency's partners to accelerate recovery through captive breeding programs, reintroductions, law enforcement efforts, land purchases and habitat preservation activities.

The eagle responded dramatically to the actions, according to federal officials.

From an all-time low of 417 breeding pairs in 1963, the population in the lower 48 states has grown to a high of 9,789 pairs today, noted the federal officials.

Fortunately, the bald eagle has never needed the protection of the ESA in Alaska, where the population is estimates at between 5,000 and 70,000 birds.

"It's fitting that our national symbol has also become a symbol of the great things that happen through cooperative conservation,"concluded wildlife service director Dale Hall. "Eagles could not have recovered without a support network of strong partnerships among government at all levels, tribes, conservation organizations, the business community and individual citizens."

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