Eagle pair lives at Hines Lake
Published 12:28 am Monday, July 2, 2007
By By Stephanie Nelson – for the standard
The American bald eagle, a national symbol that has been listed as endangered for the past 40 years, has now been removed from the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
The Interior Department made the announcement Thursday and credited wildlife conservationists around the nation for bringing the species back from the brink of extinction.
Government biologists have counted nearly 10,000 mating pairs of bald eagles, including at least one pair in each of 48 contiguous states, giving assurance that the bird's survival is no longer in jeopardy.
Over the decades, it was both revered and hated - which almost brought its demise.
A majestic bird with a wing span that can extend more than seven feet and powerful talons that allow it to swoop down and grab its prey - be it fish in a mountain lake or a rabbit or raccoon - was viewed by many as a scavenger, nuisance and dangerous predator.
It was hunted for its feathers, shot from airplanes, the subject of a 50-cent bounty in Alaska, poisoned in some states and fed to hogs in others.
Congress passed a law in 1940, still on the books, that made killing a bald eagle illegal.
The eagle population hit bottom in 1963 when only 417 mating pairs could be documented in the 48 states and its future survival as a species was in doubt.
Since then, wildlife biologists and nature conservationists - those at the Conecuh National Forest included - have been working to increase the eagle population.
Conecuh National Forest wildlife biologist Mark Garner said sightings in Covington and surrounding counties are picking up, thanks in part to a breeding pair of eagles who have made the Conecuh their home.
While Garner said he's unsure if it is the same breeding pair, the couple that currently resides at the lake has been producing a fledging pair of young almost once a year.
Garner said an occasional eagle can also be spotted in Andalusia and other parts of Covington County.