Due to hunting, habitat destruction, and insecticides, bald eagles were once an endangered species, but thanks to The Bald Eagle Protection Act and other conservation efforts, they’re now considered “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.
The conservation status of bald eagles has shifted greatly during the recent past. As of June 28, 2007 these birds were removed from the protection of the Endangered Species Act where they had been listed since 1978.
Their population was negatively impacted in the early and mid-1900’s by hunting, habitat destruction, and the use of insecticides, such as DDT. The Bald Eagle Protection Act was put into effect in 1940, although their populations continued to decline throughout the 1950’s and 70’s. Because DDT’s fat soluble properties allow it to accumulate in the fats of organisms as it biologically magnifies, top predators, such as bald eagles, were at great risk. DDT impacts all animals, with impacts such as deformities, neurological damage, and in the case of birds, brittle egg shells and un-hatching eggs. Fortunately, after the ban of DDT in 1972, the bald eagle’s population has increased dramatically. In 1963, there were an estimated 417 pairs of bald eagles remaining in the continental U.S. As of 1998, there were 5,748 pairs, bringing their productivity back to levels seen prior to DDT usage. In addition, their population in Alaska as of 1993, was between 20,000-25,000 individuals. In Washington State, these birds have had a 700% population increase from 1981 to 2005, growing approximately 9% annually. Other factors, such as guidelines regarding the proximity in which humans can develop near bald eagle nests have also positively impacted the species’ population.
Bald eagles are currently listed as a species of least concern according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to their increasing population and large range. Current and future threats to this species include contamination from coal power plants, Mercury poisoning, and global climate change.
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• Sources | (Birdlife International, 2016; Carlson, Harmata, & Restani, 2012; Gill, 2006; Grubb, Wiemeyer, & Kiff, 1990; Harvey, Moriarty, & Salathe, 2012; Millsap, et al., 2004; Rockwell, 1998; Saalfeld & Conway, 2010; Schirato & Parson, 2006; Starr, Taggart, Evers, & Starr, 2012; Thompson, Nye, Schmidt, & Garcelon, 2005; Watts & Duerr, 2010; Watts, Markham, & Byrd, 2006; Watts, Therres, & Byrd, 2008)