Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - 4:00pm
An image of this majestic bird was added to the center of the Great Seal of the United States on June 20, 1782. Since then, the bald eagle has served as the nation’s symbol. However, a loss of habitat, pesticide use and poaching once pushed eagle populations to the brink of extinction nationwide.
Faced with the possibility of losing the bald eagle to history, many states began restoration programs aimed at restoring eagle populations. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) launched an eagle restoration project in 1984. From 1985 to 1991, 91 bald eagles were released throughout the state. Today, bald eagles are a relatively common sight in Alabama.
“The bald eagle population in Alabama is doing very well and continues to increase,” said Carrie Threadgill, Bald Eagle Coordinator for ADCNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program. “Populations were once concentrated along major river systems in the state, but there are increasing reports of eagles nesting far away from those waterways. Eagle sightings are also up in urban areas and they’ve even been seen fishing in neighborhood ponds surrounded by homes. Even though the population is increasing, it’s still exciting each time I see an eagle overhead.”
Statewide nest surveys of bald eagles were conducted in Alabama until 2007. By then the population had reached a sustainable level and the bird was removed from Endangered Species Act protection. As part of a nationwide conservation effort, ADCNR continues to conduct annual mid-winter bald eagle surveys along the Tennessee River. Survey results show a steady population increase over the last 30 years.
Currently, there are an estimated 14,000 to 15,000 bald eagle pairs in the contiguous U.S.
“On American Eagle Day, we encourage all Alabamians to remember the bald eagle’s recovery, reflect on its symbolism, and continue efforts to preserve this majestic bird,” said N. Gunter Guy, Jr., ADCNR Commissioner. “Seeing our nation’s symbol soaring through Alabama skies is something we can all take pride in.”
To report an active eagle nest in Alabama, contact Carrie Threadgill at Carrie.Threadgill@dcnr.alabama.gov or call ADCNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program at 334-242-3469.
Since 1995, governors across the country have recognized American Eagle Day with proclamations giving the bald eagle an official day in their states. Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have unanimously passed several resolutions for American Eagle Day since 2007. This year, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley issued an American Eagle Day proclamation on April 1.
The non-profit AEF has been a major proponent and organizer in the establishment of American Eagle Day. AEF is celebrating its 30th year of protecting and caring for bald eagles and other birds of prey. For more information about AEF and American Eagle Day, visit www.eagles.org.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.
Bald eagle photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service