Personal Stories

The Bald Eagle

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*Originally posted to a forum for “Introduction to Environmental Sciences.”

The creature I have chosen as America’s success story is the Bald Eagle.  It became the nation’s symbol back in 1782.  However, that did not keep hunters from shooting them, and destroying their eggs for two centuries after the declaration.  (Watson, 2007) It seems incredible to think that anyone would hunt such a majestic creature such as the Bald Eagle, but it happened.  Furthermore, the Bald Eagle did not receive any protections from predators such as humans until 1940 by Congress when it became illegal to hunt this beautiful bird. (Watson, 2007) Further protections were put into place and Congress passed the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection act due to habitat encroachment.  (Wisch, 2002)

However, this is not the only reason as to why the Bald Eagles almost became extinct.  In completing research for this discussion, I found that their habitat was removed when forests were cleared, the use of DDT (insecticide) which built up in the adult Eagles and caused them to lay eggs that cracked before the chicks could hatch as the eggs were too thin.  Of course, animals that the Eagles eat (ducks) declined due to over hunting.  (Service)

In 1963, there were only 413 breeding pairs of the Bald Eagle in the United States.  (Roach, 2007)  In 1967, the Secretary of the Interior placed the bald eagles on the Endangered Species list.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service protected nest sites and introduced breeding of males and females to increase the population. (Service)  In 1972, DDT was banned in the United States and lead shot for waterfowl hunting was banned in 1991.  Why this is a critical point is the Eagles would eat other waterfowl which was hit by lead shot, causing poisoning to the Eagle.  (Info, 2013)  Once the Bald Eagle population was restored, they were removed from the Endangered Species list in August of 2007.  As of April of 2007, there are over 9,000 breeding pairs in the United States.  (Wildlife, 2007) I would say the emergence of the Bald Eagle is a success story as wildlife and our environment (DDT) was saved.

References:

Info, B. E. (2013). The American Bird Eagle’s Status and Future. . Retrieved from American Bald Eagle Information: http://www.baldeagleinfo.com/eagle/future.html

Roach, J. (2007, 28 June ). Bald Eagles Soar off Endangered Species List, But Will Act Be Weakened? . Retrieved from National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/06/070628-bald-eagles.html

Service, U. F. (n.d.). Bald Eagles, Life Stories and Conservation Success. Retrieved from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Eagle/recovery/index.html

Watson, T. (2007, June 29). Bald eagles, once almost extinct, make comback. . Retrieved from USA Today: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-06-27-bald-eagle_N.htm

Wildlife, U. F. (2007, April). Breeding Pairs . Retrieved from U.S. Fish & Wildlife : http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Eagle/population/be_prsmap_wo2006.pdf

Wisch, R. F. (2002). Detailed Discussion of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Retrieved from Animal Law Info via Michigan State University: http://www.animallaw.info/articles/ddusbgepa.htm

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