Eagles will break free of endangered species list
The federal government on Thursday will make official what Northlanders have noticed for years: Bald eagles are back in a big way. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under court order, will submit its final plan to remove bald eagles from protec...
The federal government on Thursday will make official what Northlanders have noticed for years: Bald eagles are back in a big way.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under court order, will submit its final plan to remove bald eagles from protections under the Endangered Species Act.
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne will make the announcement at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. The rule will become official after being published in the Federal Register next month.
Eagle numbers have rebounded better than anyone thought possible 40 years ago, from a low of about 420 nesting pairs in the contiguous 48 states in the 1960s to 11,040 nesting pairs today.
That includes more than 1,312 pairs in Minnesota, the most of any state outside Alaska, and nearly 1,200 in Wisconsin.
Federal protections under the act made it illegal to shoot, poison or otherwise harass eagles, including destroying their nests and nearby habitat. And even more critical to the eagle comeback was a federal ban on DDT, enacted in 1972. The pesticide was accumulating in the fish and animals eagles ate and was rendering eagle eggs too thin to survive hatching.
The process of removing eagles from the Endangered Species Act protections first was proposed a decade ago by the Clinton administration but stalled. It was jump-started by a lawsuit filed by a Minnesota landowner who wants to develop seven acres of waterfront land on Sullivan Lake in Morrison County into a subdivision.
The land holds an active eagle nest, and state and federal wildlife officials turned down the development plan. The landowner filed suit, saying the eagle didn't deserve protection as endangered when its population had recovered. The court essentially agreed, ordering the government to finish de-listing eagles by June 29 this year.