Life on the "D List"

The comeback kid of the sky.

It seems like only yesterday that bald eagles were so scarce. If you spotted one, you’d tell everyone you knew. Now people hardly give the appearance of this national symbol a second thought. According to Jeff Hagener, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, "Montana’s bald eagle population now stretches from border to border, east to west and north to south. The Yellowstone River once again has bald eagle nests along its entire length, and eagles are occupying territories that have been vacant for more than 200 years.”

In 1963, the lower 48 states were home to 417 nesting pairs of bald eagles. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), enacted in 1973, this number has risen to 10,000 over the last 40 years. In 1995, the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list and added to the threatened species list. Today the birds have officially been delisted.

In Montana there are currently 360 nesting pairs of bald eagles. “With the recovery of bald eagles, alongside the recovery of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem and gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains, Montanans have shown a willingness to trust careful management, to clean up the environment, and to conserve and protect critical habitat," says Hagener.