Source: Richard Moorhead
In the midst of what many are pointing to as national decline, the signature animal of the United States is experiencing a revival, with bald eagles quadrupling in number since 2009.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service now estimates that a total of 316,700 birds are flying free throughout the lower 48 states. That’s approximately four times as many birds were recorded in 2009. Bald eagles also inhabit parts of Canada and Mexico, mainly living in the western United States. This population includes more than 71,000 nesting pairs.
The counts of the eagles had dwindled to as few as 500 nesting pairs throughout the nation as recently as the 1950’s, with many fearing that the United States’ animal mascot would be driven extinct in its own homeland. Bald eagles had faced threats ranging from pesticide use to poaching. More recently birds have been made casualties of electric windmill.
A national conservation effort to protect the bird included outlawing the use of DDT and registering it as a legally protected species in 40 states. The since-outlawed pesticide rendered the birds infertile, eroding the strength of their egg’s shells.
The birds were unlisted as an endangered species in 2007, in some cases rebounding in levels to pose pestilence threats in some areas. The eagle’s use as a national animal dates back to the founding of the United States, with its admirers comparing it to eagles used as standards of the Roman Republic.