Author: Reed Hopper
The bald eagle was listed as a protected species in the lower 48 States under the Endangered Species Act in 1978. Fortunately, by 1999, the eagle had sufficiently recovered for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists to recommend the delisting of the American icon. However, the eagle languished on the protected list for years without any action by the Service. Strict regulatory restrictions on land use continued although the Service had determined the eagle no longer qualified as a threatened species under the ESA and would continue to be protected by the Bald Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act even after delisting. When bald eagle populations had improved from approximately 500 to 10,000, Pacific Legal Foundation filed suit in federal court to have the eagle declared recovered. In response to a court order, the Service took the species off the list of threatened or endangered species in 2007. As noted in a recent article at readingeagle.com, the bald eagle continues to thrive:
"Linkevich said some experts worried what impact [the delisting] would have on the population, a fear that has proven to be unfounded.
"In fact, she said, the bald eagle is one of the few species that is now more prevalent than it was a half-century ago.
"'This is a bird that we're seeing more than our grandparents did,' Linkevich said. 'And that is rare with any species.'"