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Bald Eagle Soars Off Endangered Species List


June 28, 2007


WASHINGTON, D.C – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today announced the
removal of the bald eagle for the list of threatened and endangered species at a ceremony
at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. After nearly disappearing from most of
the United States decades ago, the bald eagle is now flourishing across the nation and no
longer needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

“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.”

Kempthorne emphasized the ongoing commitment of the Interior Department and the
entire federal government to the eagle’s continued success, noting that bald eagles will
continue to be protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory
Bird Treaty Act. Both federal laws prohibit “taking” – killing, selling or otherwise
harming eagles, their nests or eggs.

“After years of careful study, public comment and planning, the Department of the
Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are confident in the future security of the
American Bald Eagle,” Kempthorne said. “From this point forward, we will work to
ensure that the eagle never again needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service clarified its regulations
implementing the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and published a set of National
Bald Eagle Management Guidelines. These measures are designed to give landowners
and others clear guidance on how to ensure that actions they take on their property are
consistent with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty
Act. In addition, the Service is accepting public comments on a proposal to establish a
permit program under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act that would allow a
limited take of bald and golden eagles. Any take authorized would be consistent with the
purpose and goal of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, ensuring eagle
populations remain healthy and sustainable.

The removal of the bald eagle from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened
Wildlife and Plants will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal
Register. Upon delisting, the Service will continue to work with state wildlife agencies to
monitor eagles for at least five years, as required by the Endangered Species Act. If at
any time it appears that the bald eagle again needs the Act’s protection, the Service can
propose to relist the species. The Service has developed a draft monitoring plan that is
available for public review and comment.

The bald eagle first gained federal protection in 1940, under what later became the Bald
and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The eagle was later given additional protection under
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Soon after passage of the Eagle Act, populations
stabilized or increased in most areas of the country. However, the eagle population fell
into steep decline in later decades, due primarily to widespread use of the pesticide DDT
after World War II. DDT accumulated in eagles and caused them to lay eggs with
weakened shells, decimating the eagle population across the nation. Concerns about the
bald eagle resulted in its protection in 1967 under the predecessor to the current
Endangered Species Act. The eagle was one of the original species protected by the ESA
when it was enacted in 1973.

The legal protections given the species by these statutes, along with a crucial decision by
the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the general use of DDT in 1972, provided
the springboard for the Service and its partners to accelerate recovery through captive
breeding programs, reintroductions, law enforcement efforts, protection of habitat around
nest sites and land purchase and preservation activities. The eagle responded dramatically
to these actions. From an all-time low of 417 breeding pairs in 1963, the population in the
lower 48 states has grown to a high of 9,789 pairs today. Fortunately, the bald eagle has
never needed the protection of the ESA in Alaska, where the population is estimated at
between 50,000 and 70,000 birds.

“It’s fitting that our national symbol has also become a symbol of the great things that
happen through cooperative conservation,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director
H. Dale Hall. “Eagles could not have recovered without a support network of strong
partnerships among government at all levels, tribes, conservation organizations, the
business community and individual citizens.”

Concurrently with today’s announcement, the Service is making the draft post-delisting
monitoring plan available and is soliciting public comment for 90 days. Comments on the
monitoring plan must be received 90 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Comments may be sent by mail to Bald Eagle Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan Comments,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Rock Island Field Office, 1511 47th Avenue, Moline,
Illinois 61265. Comments may also be transmitted electronically to
<baldeaglePDM@fws.gov> or by following the instructions at the Federal eRulemaking
Portal: <http://www.regulations.gov>.

More information about the bald eagle and the post-delisting monitoring plan is available
on the Service’s bald eagle website at
<http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/baldeagle.htm>.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for
conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the
continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 97-million-acre
National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 547 national wildlife refuges,
thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69
national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field
stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species
Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries,
conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native
American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal
Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on
fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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