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Bald Eagle Found In Washington A Sign of the Bird’s Triumphant Return


An injured Bald Eagle that was found on the streets of Washington, D.C. on Saturday is on the road to recovery, just in time for the Fourth of July. “The adult bald eagle was demonstrating labored breathing, lethargy, and was unable to fly,” the Humane Rescue Alliance wrote on their Facebook page. “Thankfully, our officers were able to safely capture the bald eagle and transport [it] to City Wildlife for care.”

It might be hard to believe now, but not long ago, America’s national bird (and national animal) was on the brink of extinction in the United States and one would have been hard pressed to find one anywhere, especially not in the middle of Washington D.C. In recent years, however, the bald eagle has soared back from the brink of extinction.

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In 1970, there were only 20 breeding pairs left in Virginia. Last year, Virginia had 1,600 breeding pairs. The rise in numbers is largely due to the banning of the deadly pesticide DDT in 1972.

Wildlife biologist Bryan Watts believes that had it not been for the ban, along with the passing of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, the bald eagle would have disappeared from the James River. Every year, 25-30,000 bald eagles travel to the Chesapeake Bay region. The Bay itself runs almost 200 miles and stretches from Havre de Grace, Maryland, to Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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Watts, who is the director of the College of William & Mary’s Center for Conservation Biology, cited the bald eagles’ comeback as one of the greatest conservation success stories in American history. “The most gratifying part of that is the knowledge that we did that,” he told CBS. “You know, not the small ‘we’ at the conservation community but the large ‘we’ of the American people.”

While it is unusual for bald eagles to be spotted in the middle of big cities, like the one recovering at City Wildlife, it is not completely unheard of. Matt Williams of the Humane Rescue Alliance told NPR that the bald eagle is in stable condition, but may have lasting complications.

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