OK, a little backstory here: Arizona is home to a distinct population of bald eagles known as desert nesting bald eagles… and at one point, those birds were on the brink of extinction… according to the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, there were only three reproducing nests in the 1970. However, thanks to efforts to rebuild the population, that number jumped to 43 by 2006, and as of this year, (per an article that appeared in Sunday’s Arizona Republic), 55 breeding areas were occupied, 79 eggs were laid and 56 nestlings took flight, all records for bald eagles in Arizona.
That is very good news.
But do those numbers mean that Arizona’s bald eagle should be removed from the endangered/threatened species list? Apparently, it does.
As of last Friday, the bald eagles were officially “delisted.” Now here’s why some folks are upset…
Wildlife advocates from the Center for Biological Diversity say that the desert nesting bald eagles warrant unique protection because they “geographically, behaviorally, and even biologically different from other American bald eagles… and no other bald eagle population nests under such conditions of high heat and low humidity or suffers such high mortality.” However, a review by the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the “bald eagles nesting in the Sonoran Desert area of central Arizona” do not qualify as a “distinct population” and should be delisted with the rest of the nation’s bald eagles. In 2007, bald eagles were removed from the list of endangered and threatened species throughout the lower 48 states; however, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, the birds still receive some protection under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as well as the state’s Conservation Assessment and Strategy for the Bald Eagle in Arizona.
So what do you think? Do the desert nesting bald eagles warrant special protection?