Once threatened and listed as endangered, the bald eagle is “one of the most remarkable conservation success stories of all time.” The bald eagle has recovered and quadrupled its population since 2009.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a report that the bald eagle, which was at an all-time low of 417 in 1963, increased to more than 316,700 individual bald eagles living in the lower 48, including more than 71,400 nesting pairs. The recovery was due to many conservation efforts throughout the last two decades including banning the pesticide DDT, the Service said.
“The recovery of the bald eagle is one of the most well-known conservation success stories of all time,” Martha Williams, Service principal deputy, said. “The Service continues to work with our partners in state and federal agencies, tribes, non-government organizations and with private landowners to ensure that our nation’s symbol continues to flourish.”
In order to estimate the bald eagle population in the lower 48 states, pilot biologists and observers in the Migratory Bird Program performed aerial surveys between 2018 and 2019. According to a press release, “the Service flew aerial surveys over high-density eagle nesting areas to generate accurate estimates and count occupied nesting territories. To obtain information on the lower density eagle nesting areas, the agency worked with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to use eBird relative abundance data to acquire information on the areas that were not practical to fly as part of our aerial surveys.” The Service then used an integrated population model to estimate the bald eagle’s overall population.
“The strong return of this treasured bird reminds us of our nation’s shared resilience and the importance of being responsible stewards of our lands and waters that bind us together,″ Deb Haaland, Interior Secretary, said.