WASHINGTON – Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund, issued the following statement in reaction to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's announcement that the bald eagle will be taken off the list of protected species under the Endangered Species Act. Scientists attribute the bird's recovery to a 1972 ban in the United States on DDT, a pesticide that ruins the eggs of many birds, and strict protections under the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws.
"The removal of the bald eagle from the endangered species list is a cause for tremendous celebration. Just thirty years ago, this majestic bird was in danger of sliding ever further towards extinction, a state that so many other creatures remain in today.
"But because of the diligent work of scientists and good stewards of both public and private lands, this noble bird is with us today and people in every state except Hawaii (where the bird has never occurred) can readily see our nation's symbol in the wild. I have seen bald eagles many times throughout the nation and even in urban parts of Washington, D.C. right near my home. It never fails to inspire me.
"The delisting of the bald eagle is also a strong message about the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act. By nearly all measurements, the law has been a success. It has reversed the drive towards extinction for hundreds of species and been an inspiration for species conservation throughout the world.
"Unfortunately the Endangered Species Act is itself endangered. Today's news should give everyone confidence that the act is indeed working and we should commit to improving the law's implementation rather than pursuing wholesale changes that could threaten the recovery of hundreds of other species still awaiting delisting.
"The need for the ESA has never been greater. Scientists tell us that the Earth is experiencing a ‘mass extinction' of species that is almost entirely caused by human activities such as habitat destruction and poaching. Today animal and plant species are disappearing 100 times faster than a century and a half ago. For now, the bald eagle, the great symbol of our nation, has escaped this fate and we should all cheer its recovery."