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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... the American bald eagle. Five years ago this week, the Department of Fish and Wildlife proposed that the eagle be upgraded from "endangered" to "threatened" status. In another year, it may come off the Endangered Species List altogether.


CURWOOD: A hundred years ago, an anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institution translated this passage from a Pawnee ceremony: "O eagle, come with wings outspread in sunny skies. O eagle, come and bring us peace, thy gentle peace. O eagle, come and give new life to us who pray." By the time these verses were recorded, the North American bald eagle population, once a half million strong, was in steep decline due to hunting and habitat loss. Later in the century, heavy use of pesticides, including DDT, which contaminated fish eaten by eagles, decimated the population. By the early 1960s there were fewer than 450 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. Then, in 1972, DDT was banned. A year later the eagle was placed on the newly-created Endangered Species List. Under Federal protection, the bird began to recover, and 5 years ago the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed that the eagle be upgraded from endangered to threatened status. With the eagle count now at about 5,700 pairs, President Clinton is proposing that the bald eagle be removed from the Endangered Species List next year. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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