The population of bald eagles in the US has more than quadrupled since 2009.
According to a new survey, there are now approximately 316,000 bald eagles with over 70,000 nesting pairs in the US.
The bald eagle population was on the brink of extinction only 50 years ago. The recent increase has been a result of a dedicated preservation effort.
When speaking on the report, Interior Secretary Deb Halland called it a ‘historic conservation success story.’
‘The bald eagle has always been considered a sacred species to American Indian people,’ said Haaland, ‘and similarly, it’s sacred to our nation as America’s national symbol.’
A popular insecticide which was being used since WW2 was contaminating plants and fish that were being eaten by bald eagles which produced egg shells that were so thin, they cracked during incubation.
This pesticide which was called DDT was eventually banned in 1972.
In the 1800s, these birds were shot and poisoned by farmers who saw them as a threat to their livestock. Also as the population expanded, the birds nesting habits declined.
In 1940, congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act which meant killing or possessing the species was illegal.
But DDT was still a problem and by the early 1960s, there were only 417 breeding pairs of bald eagles, this was an all-time low.
From 1994 to 1998, some 59 birds living near artificial lakes in Arkansas died as a result of a neurological disease later identified as avian vacuolar myelinopathy (AVM).
Since then, a lot of birds living near artifical lakes in the Southeast have suffered form a nuerological disease called AVM which eat away at their brains and spinal cord.
A lot of these eagles appreared disorientated, as if they were dunk, crashing into cliffs or even staving to death and their hunting instincts just went away.
In more recent times, researchers found that this was due to an underwater weed from the lake which was causing toxic levels of bromine in the water.
See the graphic below explaining it in a bit more details:
Bald eagles were sacred to a lot of Native Americans before the arrival of the pilgrims, and the US founding fathers also chose it as a symbol of the new nation.