Date of this Version
The American bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was designated our national symbol in 1782. Since that time, populations of the species have declined due to a combination of factors including habitat loss, shooting, and environmental pollutants. As a result, in 1978 the U.S. Department of Interior officially listed the species as endangered in 43 of the 48 contiguous states and threatened in Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The bald eagle is protected under the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. These pieces of legislation protect the species from direct persecution, harassment, and destruction of nests, and the Endangered Species Act provides for the identification of "critical habitat" for preservation and enhancement of populations. Five regional recovery teams appointed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are presently developing management plans to increase populations and secure habitat. The goal of these efforts is the removal of the species from the threatened and endangered list.