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WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE     Print Version
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091


May 14, 1998
Contact: Margaret Ainscough, (360) 902-2408

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State bald eagle protection still in effect

OLYMPIA -- State bald eagle habitat management plans remain in effect, despite the federal government's recent announcement that the eagle may be removed from the federal endangered species list.

"Washington has its own bald eagle protection law to protect habitat," said Harriet Allen, endangered species manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "There are hundreds of eagle management plans in effect throughout Washington aimed at protecting nest, roost and perch sites. Those state plans will remain in force but may be revised when the federal law is changed."

The process of taking the eagle off the federal endangered species list is expected to take up to two years. Even after the eagle is reclassified the bird and its nests would remain protected under other federal and state laws.

The American bald eagle population declined dramatically earlier this century due to a number of factors, including the use of the pesticide DDT, which was banned in this country in 1972. It has taken more than two decades for the birds to recover from the effects of toxic contamination. There now are an estimated 5,000 eagle nesting territories in the lower 48 states, up from 500 three decades ago, according to federal statistics. There are approximately 600 nesting pairs of bald eagles in this state.

"Even though the numbers of bald eagles have increased, the rapid development of shoreline habitat is a new threat," Allen pointed out. "If property owners leave large conifer trees along our shorelines, we will continue to enjoy these birds for generations to come."