Bald Eagle to Stay on Endangered Species List Due to Habitat Issues
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not ready to remove the American bald eagle from the endangered species list in time for the Fourth of July.
President Clinton had announced on July 2, 1999, that the bald eagle was back from the brink of extinction after a three-decade struggle and was expected to be removed from the endangered species list by July 2000.
But a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman said the move has been delayed.
“It’s not going to happen in July,” Cindy Hoffman said.
She said government lawyers are trying to determine whether existing federal law can be interpreted to protect the birds’ habitat once the bald eagle is taken off the endangered species list.
If the bald eagle is dropped from the list, it will still be protected under two other federal laws from being hunted or captured. But those laws, unlike the Endangered Species Act, do not explicitly protect the birds’ habitat.
Environmentalists worry that home and road building will destroy nesting grounds for the bald eagles.
“We’re seeing an old-fashioned land grab, where humans and eagles are using the same habitat,” said Bryan Watts, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, today there are 6,000 breeding pairs of bald eagles.