Regal Guest of Honor at PCMS Reception

A bald eagle animal ambassador from the Point Defiance Zoo was the regal guest of honor at the Reception for this week's PCMS Annual Meeting.  Attendees were able to view the national symbol of the United States up-close and ask questions of handlers about the magnificent bird.  

Having the bald eagle appear at the event afforded an opportunity for PCMS members to see one of the most stunning examples of a species brought back from the brink of extinction by a fellow species on Earth--human beings.  

It is estimated that during colonial times there were half a million bald eagles in North America, their primary habitat.  By the early 1900s, 70,000 were being shot per decade.  In 1940, the US national symbol became protected from killing.  However, this step did not stop a severe decline in its numbers in the mid 20th Century because the pesticide DDT was causing their eggs to be too weak to survive.  There were as few as 400 nesting pairs by the mid 1960s.  

Bald eagles were added to the endangered species list in 1967, protecting their habitat under federal agency and court orders.  DDT was banned in 1972.  These steps by humans helped the bald eagle turn the corner on its survival.  By 1995 their numbers had recovered to the point that the bird was removed from the endangered species list and put on the threatened species list.  It was removed from that list in 2007.  Currently there are an estimated 70,000-80,000 bald eagles in the wild, mostly in Alaska but also in other states such as Washington and Virginia--anywhere with an appropriate habitat by water with fish and small mammals to eat.  The amazingly successful recovery effort has resulted in one hundred times the number of bald eagles now living as there were 50 years ago.  One of them graced the PCMS Reception on December 5 with its stately and noble presence.