COMMENTS OF ED CLARK, PRESIDENT & CO-FOUNDER OF WILDLIFE CENTER OF VIRGINIA, ON 'DELISTING' OF BALD EAGLE

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Decision Expected on June 28 On June 28, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to announce its decision to remove the Bald Eagle from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. "The expected delisting of the Bald Eagle is a mixed blessing," Ed Clark, President and Co-Founder of the Wildlife Center of Virginia, said. "Clearly the protections of the Endangered Species Act, changes in pesticide laws, and state-of-the-art wildlife veterinary medicine have worked. The eagle population has recovered - here in Virginia and across the nation. But there should be no false sense of 'mission accomplished' here. Particularly in the area of habitat preservation, the eagle will continue to need protection." The Bald Eagle was one of the species covered by the Endangered Species Preservation Act, approved in 1966, and the Endangered Species Act, approved in 1973. At the time of European settlement, an estimated half a million Bald Eagles lived in what would become the United States. By the 1960s, however, the Bald Eagle was teetering on the edge of extinction in the lower 48 states - due to loss of habitat, poaching, and the effects of DDT and other pesticides. In 1963, it was estimated that there were only 417 pairs of eagles in the United States. According to a just-released survey by the Center for Biological Diversity, there are now more than 11,000 pairs of adult Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states. The eagle population in Virginia has seen a similar rebound. In 1982, when the Wildlife Center was founded, there were only about 50 active Bald Eagles nests in Virginia. Today there are about 500. "The bald eagle is more than just a symbol of our nation - it's also stands as a symbol for native wildlife and environmental protection," Clark continued. "The experience of the last 40 years proves that conservation works. Human thoughtlessness took the eagle to the brink of extinction; concerted and thoughtful environmental policy has brought the eagle back to our skies." Founded in 1982, the Wildlife Center of Virginia has treated more than 47,000 animals, including scores of Bald Eagles. During 2006, the Center admitted 29 Bald Eagles - a single-year record in the Center's quarter-century of work. Thus far in 2007, the Center has admitted 19 Bald Eagles - about 50-percent ahead of last year's record-setting pace. In 1985, the Center admitted a Bald Eagle from King George County - an eagle that had been poisoned by carbofuran, a potent pesticide. The Center led a successful six-year campaign to ban the most common form of carbofuran [trade name Furadan] in Virginia; in 2006, 21 years after the Center first admitted that poisoned Bald Eagle, all forms of carbofuran were banned in the United States. Clark also has released Bald Eagles treated at the Wildlife Center across Virginia. "I have done it dozens of times," Clark told The Richmond Times-Dispatch earlier this year, "and every time it makes my heart stop." A copy of the Center's report on its work with Bald Eagles during 2006 is available as a PDF document at www.wildlifecenter.org/news/pdf/2006_Eagles.pdf [PDF - 850k] or at www.wildlifecenter.org/news/2006_eagle_report.