Bald Eagle Officially Saved

June 29, 2007 12:28 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The bald eagle, national symbol of the United States, departs from the threatened species list; after years on the brink, the eagle population soars in 48 states.

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June 28, 2007––“Today I am proud to announce the eagle has returned,” declared Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. He was speaking at a Washington, DC ceremony celebrating the bald eagle’s removal from the threatened species list.

The eagle was reclassified as "threatened" in 1995, after decades of being "endangered" and on the verge of extinction.

In 1963, there were only 417 nesting pairs in the entire United States. That figure now stands at around 10,000 pairs.

The eagle went on the endangered list in 1967. Its natural habitats were shrinking and it was hunted by farmers. However, the biggest threat was damage to the eagles’ eggs caused by the pesticide DDT, which was banned in 1972.

“In addition to being our national symbol, the bald eagle is now a symbol of environmental stewardship as well,” said Michael Daulton of the Audubon Society.

Not everyone has been a fan of the bald eagle. Founding father Benjamin Franklin famously ridiculed the eagle as a creature of “bad moral character.” To his mind, another animal might have been a better icon for the American spirit: the turkey.


Reference Material


Benjamin Franklin

The bald eagle was first depicted on the U.S. Great Seal in 1782, and became the official national symbol in 1789.

Benjamin Franklin did not, as reported in some sources, protest publicly against the use of the bald eagle as an American icon. He did, however, discuss with his daughter a particularly bad drawing that made the eagle look like a turkey. In a private letter, he compared the traits of the two creatures. Franklin judged that the bald eagle was “a Bird of bad moral Character,” whereas the turkey is “though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage.”


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