A common question that many people have about the bald eagle is if they are endangered? Bald eagles currently have a healthy, growing population, especially here in America, and are thankfully not on the list of endangered species. However, this was not always the case. The bald eagle became our official National Bird in the year 1792, but not long after, their numbers already started to decline. It was only 40 years ago or so that the bald eagle was in serious danger of going extinct due to a number of factors.
One of the greatest threats to any species of wildlife, at any point in time throughout history, is habitat destruction. Such was the case for the bald eagle as a great deal of their habitat was destroyed through the clear-cutting of virgin forests over the past centuries.
Decline of Prey Items
In the mid to late 1800’s, there was a great decline in waterfowl, shorebirds, and other prey items that eagles depend on for food due to unregulated hunting which was unfortunately common at the time.
Illegal Shooting (Poaching)
Along with preying on the ducks and other small animals that hunters were after for food during the 1800’s, many bald eagles were also shot by farmers for killing their chickens and other livestock.
DDT Pesticide Contamination
Shortly after World War II, a new pesticide called DDT was heavily used to control mosquitoes and other insects. However, along with killing insects, it also washed into nearby waterways where it was absorbed by aquatic plants and fish. It was discovered later that DDT was poisoning eagles from the infected fish they ate and it interfered with their ability to produce strong eggshells, resulting in a great number of eagle eggs breaking during incubation.
Thankfully, all these major threats that were responsible for almost wiping out the bald eagle were successfully addressed and again, today the bald eagle enjoys a healthy, growing population. Check out the video below to see more…