National Emblem Of Recovery
This Bald Eagle was photographed on the cliff-banks of Canyon Lake, Arizona. 10 years ago I only saw one Eagle here in Arizona my whole life. In the past 3 years I've seen on average of 10 each year, with the majority of them being either in the Phoenix area, or within 50 miles of it. It is a great success story.
In 1787, the newly formed United States of America adopted the bald eagle as its national emblem. It served as a symbol of freedom and power for the new, developing country. At the time, the bald eagle was thriving, and the population was estimated at more than 250,000 birds when Europeans first settled the continent.
However, bald eagle populations began to decline in the 1800s when they were shot for feathers and trophies. By the 1940s, the federal government realized bald eagles were disappearing and enacted laws for their protection. The bald eagle continued to decline to less than 1,000 pairs even with the new laws. Scientists discovered that the post-World War II use of the pesticide DDT caused thinning of the birds’ eggshells, resulting in reproductive failures. DDT was banned in the United States in 1973, and the bald eagle was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1978.
Very little information existed on the species in Arizona when bald eagles were first listed as endangered. Only 11 breeding pairs were known. Scientists first believed the population in the southwestern United States was historically small and on the fringe of its suitable habitat. Land and wildlife resource managers in Arizona began an intensive research, monitoring, and management program after the bald eagle was listed that successfully recovered the species to more than 50 breeding areas statewide. Although the bald eagle has been removed from the Endangered Species Act nationally, the population in Arizona still requires management to maintain its current size. The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Southwestern Bald Eagle Management Committee have developed a cooperative management plan to maintain and increase the bald eagle population in Arizona.