Bird Strike Committee Proceedings


Date of this Version

September 2007


The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) population in the United States has made a tremendous recovery from fewer than 500 nesting pairs in 1970, to over 10,000 pairs in 2007. It is likely that the population will continue to grow. Every state, except Hawaii, now has nesting bald eagles. Because of the widespread recovery, the U. S. Department of the Interior removed the bald eagle from the Endangered Species List in August 2007. Bald eagles are still protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act as well as by state laws. At airports across the United States of America biologists are finding it difficult to manage bald eagles that threaten aviation safety. This difficulty arises because of the restrictive laws which protect this species, and the intense public interest and concern for eagles. As the eagle population continues to grow, so do the number of eagle strikes with aircraft. Overall, there were 84 reported civil aircraft strikes with bald eagles in 18 U.S. states and one in Canada to a U.S. carrier from 1990-2006. The mean number of strikes/year has increased 7-fold in the lower 48 states since 1990.