US eagle is saved from extinction

THE BALD eagle, the national emblem of the United States, has escaped extinction and will be removed from the list of endangered species, the United States government said yesterday.

Along with a number of other species, the bird has thrived under the protection afforded it in the last few decades, and is now flourishing.

"We're going to take the bird off. The eagle is at a point where it's made a full recovery," a spokesman for the Interior Department said. In a flourish, it will be declared safe on 4 July, the US's national holiday.

"It's entirely appropriate that on the fourth of July we focus on the symbol of our country in wildlife," said Mark Van Putten, president of the National Wildlife Federation.

The bald eagle will be the eighth species to be removed from the endangered species list. The peregrine falcon is being delisted at the moment, and the Aleutian Canada goose will come off later this year. However, the symbolic importance of the bald eagle symbolises the recovery of some of America's wildlife. A combination of pesticides and aggressive farmers and ranchers had taken it down to 450 nesting pairs by the late Sixties, but now it is back up to 5,000.

Conservationists are cautious, pointing out that many other species are still threatened and that the expansion of human settlement, pesticides and farming continue to cause problems.

The bald eagle is not the only species to prosper under the US's Endangered Species Act, a landmark piece of environmental legislation from the Seventies. The American crocodile, which had fallen to 20 nesting females, is alsomaking a recovery, and experts estimate that there are 500 in south Florida, which periodically make appearances on the state's many golf courses.

"Significant improvements in the well-being of many imperiled species has been accomplished as a result of actions taken under the Endangered Species Act," the Environmental Defense Fund and the Endangered Species Coalition said in a report released earlier this month.

Experimental populations of grey wolves have been reintroduced into Yellowstone Park and the whooping crane in Texas has staged a dramatic recovery, as have Lange's metalmark butterfly in California and the Kemp's Ridley sea turtle in the Gulf of Mexico. "Our study shows that the road to extinction can be reversed, with species getting on the road to recovery instead," said Brock Evans, who heads the Endangered Species Coalition.

However, the Act is under fire from landowners in the West who consider it over-bureaucratic, and they want changes that concern some conservationists.

Jim Geringer, the governor of Wyoming, said at the organisation's annual meeting that the law was "bundled in endless red tape, which in some cases actually slows efforts to help endangered species recover and fails to take economic impact into consideration".