With a court-ordered deadline looming for removal of the bald eagle from the endangered species list, the Interior Department, rejecting the advice of its staff wildlife biologists, tried to limit a separate set of protections for the majestic bird that has served as a national symbol for centuries.
Not surprisingly, the public didn’t like the idea of requiring actual dead eagles before action could be taken. The Interior Department got an extension from the court until June 29 to come up with a new plan. Even with the change in status under the Endangered Species Act, laws and treaties protecting eagles and migratory birds still cover the national symbol.
Wildlife biologists in the Fish and Wildlife Service argued that those other laws and experience in conservation would argue in favor of maintaining protections similar to those already in place. Political appointees with ties to industry managed to water down the proposal, which would have allowed interference in eagle habitat unless birds actually started dying, getting injured, or abandoning nests.
Luckily, that didn’t sit well, and we’ll have a better plan by summer.