Protecting our national symbol:
Bald eagles require three things for survival: an adequate supply of food, nesting sites close to food, and a reasonable degree of freedom from disturbance during nesting periods. Because of their large size, bald eagles need a substantial food base and it is important that the home range includes a body of water.
When the bald eagle was adopted as our national symbol in 1782 there were between 25,000 and 75,000 birds nesting in the lower 48 states. Illegal shooting, habitat destruction, lead poisoning and the catastrophic effects of the pesticide DDT in their prey base reduced eagle numbers to only 417 pairs by 1963. Legal protection began with the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940 and continued with the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 and the 1978 listing under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.