NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Bald Eagle Is Back -- But Don't Count On It, Officially

July 6, 2000

A year ago, the Clinton administration announced "the American Bald Eagle is back." Does that mean that the national symbol will be taken off the Endangered Species list? Well, not exactly. It's a question of politics, not science.

The evidence has been in for more than a year that the bald eagle is safe once again.

  • The Clinton administration has found it convenient to blame loss of habitat for its delay in taking the Bald Eagle off the Endangered Species list -- even though wildlife experts expected him to do so.
  • But he has put the move on hold indefinitely, and a senior Interior Department official admits the decision is political -- even though he protests it is for the good.
  • In 1963, there were fewer than 500 wild bald eagle pairs in the lower 48 states.
  • Today, environmentalists estimate there are more than 5,800 occupied nesting sites, or at least 11,600 mated birds, and many more juveniles and sub-adults.

There are now 1,205 species listed as threatened or endangers on the Fish and Wildlife Service list. Another 295 are so-called proposed or candidate species for the list. Over the past three decades, only 28 species have been removed from the list.

Source: William Booth, "How to Protect Habitat?" Washington Post, July 4, 2000.


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