Maggie: This month marks the anniversary of the signing of the Endangered Species Act, a federal law that protects plants and animals that are threatened or nearing extinction that was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1973. Scott Evans, along with a very special visitor, has more.
Scott: These are among the nearly 45,000 on the international endangered species list – species of elephants, lions, rhinos, insects, polar bears, plants, tigers, cheetahs, birds, primates. They are all on the verge of vanishing from the earth forever. But one success story is the American bald eagle.
I am here with Al Cecere, the founder and president of the American Eagle Foundation, and one of his buddies, Challenger. Now, they were once endangered, correct?
Al Cecere: That is right. Their numbers were down to about 400 nesting pairs in the early ‘60s, and we almost lost this bird. It was on the brink of extinction.
Scott: The eagles were dying because of the use of pesticides. The dangerous chemical DDT collected in the fish the birds would eat. DDT is now heavily restricted in the U.S.
And so, what is the current status of the bald eagle?
Cecere: It’s an American success story. It took all of us working together to bring back this majestic bird to America’s skies.
Scott: After years of efforts by nonprofit organizations like the American Eagle Foundation, the bald eagle was able to rebuild its population but it is still a protected species, and today there are more than 9,700 breeding pairs.
I am deathly afraid of birds. His very sharp talons and a very sharp beak. Should I be concerned in any sort of way? Did you see him just side-eye me kind of?
Cecere: He was. He was listening to that question closely. I’ve got him under full control. He’s very well trained, obviously. If you had a large salmon in your pocket and you pulled it out, you can be sure that he would reach over and bite that fish right out of your hand.
Scott: We are salmon-free, Challenger. I promise. Salmon free.
Challenger is a celebrity, in his own right, with major appearances on TV. So we thought who better to help us with a pop quiz.
Cecere: Today’s pop quiz question is where do bald eagles live? Is it:
A. South America
B. North America
Take ten seconds!
Time is up! The answer is “B.” Bald eagles are only found in North America.
Scott: So talk to me a little bit about the American Eagle Foundation.
Cecere: We take trained eagles and birds of prey into schools and all sorts of other events around the country to raise awareness about the need to protect them. We breed disabled bald eagles and release their young into the wild.
Scott: Now, there is a really cool project going on right now with the eagle’s nest cam, right?
Cecere: Right now, we have a nest in Northeast Florida that we put high definition cameras over the nest and you can see very intimate views of their family life. And the babies will hopefully hatch out right before Christmas.
Scott: And to find out more about endangered and threatened species and a link to the Eagle Nest Cam, head to Channelone.com. Am I right, Challenger? Am I right? Air-five. Love it.