WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of American bald eagles has quadrupled since 2009, with more than 300,000 birds flying over the lower 48 states, government scientists said in a report. Wednesday.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said bald eagles, the once-on-the-brink of extinction, have flourished in recent years, reaching more than 71,400 nesting pairs and an estimated of 316,700 individual birds.
Home Secretary Deb Haaland, in her first public appearance since taking office last week, hailed the eagle’s recovery and noted that the majestic white-headed bird has always been considered sacred to Native American tribes and the United States. usually.
“The strong return of this treasured bird reminds us of our nation’s shared resilience and the importance of being responsible stewards of our lands and waters that bind us together,” said Haaland, the First Secretary of the Cabinet for Native Americans.
Bald eagles reached a record low of 417 known nesting pairs in 1963 in the lower 48 states. But after decades of protection, including banning the pesticide DDT and placing the eagle on the endangered species list in more than 40 states, the bald eagle population has continued to grow. The bald eagle was removed from the list of threatened or endangered species in 2007.
“It’s clear that the bald eagle population continues to thrive,” Haaland said, calling the bird’s recovery a “success story (which) is testament to the enduring importance of the work of Interior Department scientists and conservationists. This work could not have been done without teams of people collecting and analyzing decades of science … accurately estimating the bald eagle population here in the United States. ”
The bald eagle celebration “is also a time to reflect on the importance of the Endangered Species Act, a vital tool in efforts to protect America’s wildlife,” Haaland said, referring to the landmark endangered species law. 1973 crucial to prevent the extinction of species such as the bald eagle or the American bison.
Reiterating a pledge from President Joe Biden, Haaland said his department will review the Trump administration’s actions “to undermine key provisions” of the Endangered Species Act. He did not offer details, but environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers criticized the Trump administration for a number of actions, including reducing critical habitat for the northern spotted owl. and lifting protections for gray wolves.
“We will take a closer look at all of those reviews and consider what steps to take to ensure that all of us – states, Indian tribes, private owners, and federal agencies – have the tools we need to conserve America’s natural heritage and strengthen our economy,” he said Haaland.
“We have an obligation to do so because future generations must also experience our beauty outdoors, the way many of us have been blessed,” he added.
Martha Williams, deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, called the bald eagle recovery “one of the most remarkable conservation success stories of all time” and said she hopes every American will have the opportunity to see an eagle. bald head in flight.
“It’s great to see them,” he said.
To estimate the bald eagle population in the lower 48 states, biologists and observers from the Fish and Wildlife Service conducted aerial surveys over a two-year period in 2018 and 2019. The agency also worked with the Ornithology Laboratory of the Cornell University to acquire information on areas that were not practical to fly over as part of aerial reconnaissance.