The Bald Eagle No Longer Endangered

By: Ryan Orlancia

Most experts expected the bald eagle to become extinct during the 20th century, but this American symbol has since reversed its decline and begun to recover. The bald eagle was found to be endangered in 1940 and a law was passed, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, to protect it from hunting. After the eagle no longer had to worry about hunting, the numbers continued to decline due to the pesticide DDT. The bald eagle's numbers were down to only 417 pairs in the U.S. in 1963, and the species was put on the endangered species list in 1973.

Far from the expected extinction of the treasured national symbol, the bald eagle has since made a dramatic recovery. The bald eagle is no longer listed as an endangered species thanks to the nearly 10,000 pairs that roam the American skies. Experts, however, will not be leaving the bald eagle completed alone. For another five years, or more, the bald eagle will continue to be tracked and watched for any decline. The monitoring will enable the research community to be aware of any changes in numbers, and for inclusion into the endangered species list if necessary.

Even without being reclassified as endangered, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act is still there to keep the animal from being hunted. There is also protection afforded to the eagles from an act passed in 1918- the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The act was passed to protect migratory birds, such as the bald eagle, in other countries that share birds with the U.S. due to migration. For eagles that make their way into Canada or Mexico, the treaty is in effect in those countries to stop the trade of eagle feathers, eggs and other parts that could make the hunting of eagles lucrative.

Since DDT was banned in 1972, bald eagles have enjoyed further protection from decline. DDT caused a serious decline in bald eagle numbers, becoming a major contributor to the species near extinction. This chemical eventually made its way from the waterways and into the eagles. The fish in these waterways became contaminated and were then eaten by bald eagles. The chemical then affected the eagles by keeping them from producing the hard shells needed to protect the baby eagles until it was time to hatch. The havoc wreaked by DDT made it difficult for the species to reproduce as mother eagles cracked their own thin eggs in an attempt to incubate them. With DDT now gone, the number of bald eagles can continue to grow.

Science
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Science