The Recovery Of The Bald Eagle

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. Experts realized in 1940 that the species had become endangered, and a law was passed to offer it protection from hunters- the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Even after the hunting stopped, there was still a decline in numbers due to the rampant use of DDT. The bald eagle was included on the endangered species list in 1973, and the species hit a low point in 1963 with only 417 breeding pairs.

Instead of the expected extinction of the species, the bald eagle has executed a miraculous rise in the number of breeding pairs. The more than 9,000 breeding pairs that exist today have made experts drop the species from the list of endangered species. Wildlife experts, however, will not be abandoning the bald eagle. 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. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 has offers still more protection to the bald eagle. 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.

The 1972 ban on the use of DDT has also done much to protect bald eagles. DDT traveled up the food chain to the bald eagle, and other animals, causing a steep decline in the number of breeding pairs. 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. Eagles then caught the contaminated fish living in these waters. The affected eagles were unable to produce eggshells that were hard enough to keep from cracking before the incubation period was over. DDT devastated the bald eagle population, as mother eagles were unable to incubate the thin eggs, often cracking them in the nest. Today the threat of DDT is largely over and bald eagles can catch fish, roam the skies and keep increasing their numbers.

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