A timeline tracking the bald eagle's history, from its brush
with extinction to its recovery.
• Pre-1776: The number of bald eagles in North America is
believed to total more than 250,000; they inhabit virtually ever
large river, lake or estuary region on the continent.
• 1782: The Continental Congress puts the bald eagle onto the
Great Seal of the United States, making it the country's official
• 1850-1900: With the population's movement westward, the eagles
natural habitat becomes increasingly threatened and its population
• 1900-1940: While technically protected in 1918 by the
Migratory Bird Treaty Act, tens of thousands of bald eagles are
killed as people view them as scavengers and also shoot them for
• 1940: Congress passes the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection
Act, which prohibits the killing of bald eagles.
• 1950s: DDT becomes widely available as an insecticide for
plants and contaminates fish, killing huge numbers of adult eagles
and harming the eggs that they hatched.
• 1963: The Interior Department documents only 417 eagle nesting
pairs, marking the low point for the species.
• 1967: The eagle is declared endangered and becomes among the
first species protected after Congress enacts the Endangered
Species Act six years later.
• 1972: DDT is banned for outdoor use; the eagle begins its
• 1995: The eagle is moved from ``endangered'' to the less
protective ``threatened'' category.
• 1999: The Interior Department says the eagle has recovered
sufficiently to be removed from the Endangered Species Act list.
• June, 2007: Interior Department removes the bald eagle from
Endangered Species Act protection and announces a management plan
to continue the eagle's protection under other laws.