Great news: The bald eagle is no longer endangered.
Conservationists have hailed the successful recovery of the eagle as clear evidence that the Endangered Species Act, which has been under attack in recent years from business groups and some members of Congress, can work.
Government biologists have documented nearly 10,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles, including at least one pair in each of the 48 contiguous states. This compares to only 417 such pairs in 1963 when the bird was on the verge of disappearing everywhere in the country except for Alaska.
While no longer declared endangered, the bald eagle will continue to be protected by a 1940 federal law that will make it illegal to kill the bird -- as well as state statutes.
Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service also is preparing guidelines for protecting the bird's nesting habitat under the 1940 law and developing a permitting process that landowners will have to use if eagles are found on property they want to disturb.
"This is truly one of America's great wildlife success stories," said John Kostyack, director the National Wildlife Federation's endangered species program. He said it shows the Endangered Species Act is needed and can work to save plants and animals on the verge of disappearing.
Said John Flicker, president of the National Audubon Society: "The rescue of the bald eagle from the brink of extinction ranks among the greatest victories of American conservation."