Fish and Wildlife Service Removes Endangered Species Act Protection From Arizona's Desert Nesting Bald Eagles
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is acting to remove Endangered Species Act protection from Arizona's desert nesting bald eagles. Almost two years after U.S. District Court Judge Mary Murguia’s March 5, 2008 rejection of the agency's last attempt in 2007, a similar decision by Fish and Wildlife has been released for publication in tomorrow's Federal Register. Today the agency also filed a request with the U.S. District Court to remove an injunction currently in place to protect the eagle.
"We conclude that the best information available does not indicate that persistence in the ecosystem of the Sonoran Desert Area is important to the species as a whole," the new Fish and Wildlife decision states.
But no recognized bald eagle expert agrees with that assertion, as no expert agreed with the Service’s earlier 2007 decision to remove protection. "The science and the law have not changed, but sadly, neither have the politics," says Dr. Robin Silver with the Center for Biological Diversity. "If the decision stands, it will be a death sentence for our desert nesting bald eagles. We're anxious to get back into court to save these magnificent birds."
The desert nesting bald eagle is an icon of the Southwest's desert rivers, and only about 50 breeding pairs survive. The population is reproductively, geographically, biologically, and behaviorally distinct from all other bald eagle populations, since no other bald eagle population occupies habitat so hot and dry — an adaptation that’s critically important as global warming becomes increasingly problematic for species survival. No other population of bald eagles will move in if this population disappears, and that will result in a significant gap in the overall bald-eagle range.