EDF Applauds Plan To Remove Bald Eagle From Endangered List

July 2, 1999

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the group that filed the original petition to ban DDT which started the bald eagle on the road to recovery, today applauded the Clinton Administration for announcing its intention to remove the nation’s symbol from the endangered species list.

“This is a tremendous victory for the bald eagle and for the Endangered Species Act,” said Michael Bean, chair of EDF’s wildlife program. “There is no prouder symbol of our nation’s commitment to preserving our natural heritage than the eagle. And there is no greater tribute to the Endangered Species Act than to allow its finest success story to fly off the list, free at last.”

The Environmental Defense Fund was founded in 1967, and its first national action was to file the original petition with the USDA to ban the pesticide DDT. DDT caused eggshell thinning and reproductive failure in bald eagles, ospreys, peregrine falcons, brown pelicans and other species. Since DDT was banned in 1972, and since its listing on the original endangered species list in 1967, the bald eagle has made a spectacular recovery. There are now more than 5,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles nationwide.

The bald eagle is only one of many species that has bounced back dramatically since being put on the endangered species list. The peregrine falcon was proposed for removal from the endangered species list in 1998, and the brown pelican on the East Coast was removed from the endangered species list in 1985. The formerly endangered American alligator has been restored to abundance throughout the Southeast. Whooping cranes, piping plovers, gray wolves in the lower 48 states, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, and Aleutian Canada geese are at or near their highest levels in decades.

“Today’s announcement represents a major success for the Endangered Species Act. Under that law, bald eagles have been reintroduced into areas from which they had been extirpated; malicious shooting has dropped dramatically due to increased penalties; and the threat of lead poisoning from birds ingesting shotgun pellets has been virtually eliminated,” said Bean. “The recovery of the eagle shows that it is within our power to make a u-turn on the road to extinction and get onto the road to recovery.”