Thursday, 28 June 2007

Thriving Bald Eagle 'no longer endangered'

The Bald Eagle, the national symbol of the USA which was once almost wiped out by hunters and DDT poisoning, has not only survived but is thriving.

The Interior Department is removing the majestic bird from the protection of the Endangered Species Act, capping a four-decade struggle for recovery. US government biologists have counted almost 10,000 pairs of Bald Eagles, including at least one pair in each of 48 contiguous states, giving assurance that the bird's survival is no longer in jeopardy.

The species’ population hit rock-bottom in 1963 when only 417 mating pairs could be documented in the 48 states and its future survival as a species was in doubt.

There were once believed to be as many as a half million Bald Eagles in North America, pre-dating the arrival of settlers from Europe. The Continental Congress put the bird onto the country's official seal in 1782, although Benjamin Franklin preferred the turkey and called the eagle a “bird of bad moral character”.

The Interior Department has been mulling over what to do about the bald eagle for eight years since government biologists in 1999 concluded its recovery had been a success. Earlier this year, a federal court directed it to make a decision on the bird's status by this Friday, acting in a lawsuit by a Minnesota man who complained the government's delays kept him from developing seven acres that included an eagle's nest.

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Source: Guardian Unlimited