Sunday, February 04, 2007

Bald Eagles Come Sweeping Back

ROCKPORT, WASH. — The recent record rain, snow and ice storms in Washington state that downed power lines and caused millions of dollars in property damage have apparently had at least one salutary effect: A record number of bald eagles have been counted in Skagit County, north of Seattle.

The annual National Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey coordinated by the U.S. Geological Survey occurs in 42 states and has helped document the recovery of the bald eagles, whose numbers had dropped by 1963 to only 417 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states.The birds were listed as an endangered species in 1967, even before the Endangered Species Act became law in 1973.

Yet by 1995, the population had recovered to the point where its official status was upgraded from endangered to threatened. Today, more than 7,000 nesting pairs live in the contiguous U.S., and this month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to announce the complete delisting of the birds.

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