Friday, May 29, 2009

Bald Eagle

On July 12, 1995, the bald eagle was reclassified from endangered to threatened in the lower 48 states. It is the first and only Montana threatened or endangered species to be downlisted since the 1973 Endangered Species Act became law.

Bald eagle numbers, estimated at a quarter of a million in the lower 48 states before 1800, declined steadily throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Raptors at this time were regarded as vermin and shot on sight.

The Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940 increased public awareness and made indiscriminate shooting, poisoning, collecting, and trading of bald eagles illegal, stemming the decline for a time. Yet, the advent of DDT and related pesticides during World War II and their widespread post-war use soon caused eagle reproduction to plummet. In 1963, a National Audubon Society survey reported only 417 active nests in the lower 48 states.


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