Bald Eagles Fly off the Threatened List



The national symbol is flying strong once again.  The bald eagle has been removed from the U.S. Endangered and Threatened Species List.

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne made the announcement June 28, 2007.

"Today I am proud to announce: the eagle has returned," said Secretary Kempthorne. "In 1963, the lower 48 states were home to barely 400 nesting pairs of bald eagles. Today, after decades of conservation effort, they are home to some 10,000 nesting pairs, a 25-fold increase in the last 40 years. Based on its dramatic recovery, it is my honor to announce the Department of the Interior's decision to remove the American bald eagle from the Endangered Species List."

In 1995, the bald eagle was nationally upgraded from endangered to threatened in all of the lower 48 states. At that time, there were around 4,450 breeding pairs. Today, bald eagle pairs in the continental U.S. number 9,789.  

“Oklahoma has over 100 bald eagles that live here year-round, including 49 known breeding pairs,” said Lesley McNeff, wildlife diversity information specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “During the winter, Oklahoma is host to anywhere from 700 to 1,500 eagles statewide. The numbers peak in January and February with the highest concentration of birds located at lakes. Popular viewing sites include Kaw, Texhoma, Tenkiller, Ft. Gibson, Grand, Canton, Great Salt Plains and Tishomingo.”

McNeff said that between 1985 and 1990, the Department’s Wildlife Diversity Program assisted the George M. Sutton Avian Research Center with the release of 90 eaglets in eastern Oklahoma, including 59 birds in 1990 alone.

Biologists transported eggs from Florida bald eagle nests to the Sutton Center in Bartlesville. About nine weeks after hatching, the young eagles were placed in hacking towers and eventually released into the wild, with the hopes that they would return as adults and raise their young in the state.

Since those efforts, bald eagle populations in Oklahoma increase each year. While zero pairs of nesting eagles existed in the state in 1990, Oklahoma currently has 49 nesting pairs.

 

The Wildlife Department hosts Eagle Watches every winter at 17 sites around the state. These events have been taking place for more than 15 years. Bald eagle watches are coordinated by the Wildlife Diversity Program.

Although these birds have been removed from the Threatened and Endangered Species List, they are still protected by both federal and state laws. These statutes include the Lacey Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. All three of these acts generally state that the U.S. prohibits the pursuance, harming, harassing, purchasing, taking, killing, possession, transportation, and importation of migratory birds, their eggs, parts, and nests, unless allowed by permit.  

“This is a major conservation milestone for everyone who loves the outdoors,” said McNeff.
 

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US Fish and Wildlife Service: http://www.fws.gov/

Sutton Avian Research Center: http://www.suttoncenter.org/