Thursday, the Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to make the exciting announcement that our national icon, the bald eagle, is ready to be removed from the endangered species list. Thanks to the strong protections of the Endangered Species Act and other safeguards over the last few decades, this majestic bird now flies over all lower 48 states and (fittingly) our nation's capitol for all Americans to enjoy.
In preparation for tomorrow's announcement, the following is a statement from Susan Holmes, Senior Legislative Representative for Earthjustice:
"We can all be proud that together, we have brought bald eagle populations back from the brink.
"Things could have turned out very differently. By the middle of the 20th century, only a few hundred pairs remained in the contiguous United States due to widespread hunting, poisoning, habitat destruction, and the devastating effects of the pesticide DDT. The eagles had vanished from many parts of the country where they once thrived, and it was realistic that this most American of birds could vanish forever.
"Thankfully, the protections granted by the Endangered Species Act, including safeguards for prime eagle habitat and work to bring the birds back to areas where they had disappeared as well as the eventual nationwide banning of DDT, were successful in turning the tide for the bird. Today, bald eagle populations have grown to over 11,000 pairs, an incredible tribute to the safety net of the Endangered Species Act.
"As we applaud this national success, it is troubling to note that the Bush administration has recently been working behind closed doors to undermine the Endangered Species Act's ability to recovery other species at risk of extinction. Even as they celebrate the eagle's comeback, the administration is drafting new regulations that could severely weaken the law which has so effectively kept our nation's symbol with us.
"We hope the administration doesn't mar this moment by trying to gut the Endangered Species Act. The best salute we can give to the bald eagle as it makes its way off the list is to keep our most popular wildlife protection law strong and effective for generations to come."
Watch short video of bald eagles in the wild.