The bald eagle was removed yesterday from the "threatened" list created under the Endangered Species Act. The eagle is the best example of how well the ESA has worked; populations of eagles in the lower 48 increased from 417 breeding pairs in 1963 to nearly 10,000 today.
Delisting of the eagle has been somewhat controversial. Environmentalists are concerned that removal of the eagle from the ESA list will enable developers to gobble up eagle habitat (one of the byproducts of the ESA is that protection of habitat of listed species also provides protection for unlisted species). Of course this is part of the reasoning used by the Bush Administration for delisting. Dubya's nature-hating bunch has missed no opportunity to undermine, dodge, or weaken the act. When that isn't practical, they simply change, ignore, or even supress the science behind the act, often with disastrous results. New listings under the act have dwindled to almost none, and every new listing since the beginning of the current administration has been the result of citizen action, rather than a response to government research.
The recovery of the eagle is a cause for celebration. It is also a signal to environmentalists that the Endangered Species Act works, and needs to be protected from the worst government in the nation's convservation history.