BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhuanet) -- The bald eagle, U.S. national bird, was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species --an official act of name-dropping that President Bush hailed as "a wonderful way" to celebrate the Fourth of July, media reported Friday.
Bush said the bald eagle's resurgence after a four-decade-old fight should be credited to cooperation between private landowners and federal and state governments. "This great conservation achievement means more and more Americans across the nation will enjoy the thrill of seeing bald eagles soar," he said.
The eagle, whose decline came during years in which the bird was often targeted by hunters and later became a victim of the pesticide DDT, will still be protected by state statutes and a federal law passed by Congress in 1940 that makes it illegal to kill a bald eagle.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is developing guidelines on how that law will be implemented. It also is developing a permitting system to allow landowners to develop their property and still protect the eagle population.
Today, there are nearly 10,000 mating pairs of bald eagles in the contiguous 48 states, compared to a documented 417 in 1963 when the bird was on the verge of extinction everywhere except in Alaska and Canada where it has continued to thrive.
"After years of careful study, public comment and planning, the Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are confident in the future security of the American bald eagle," said Dirk Kempthorne,Interior Secretary of the U.S.Department.
He promised that "from this point forward we will work to ensure that the eagle never again needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act."