Essay, Research Paper
The bald eagle is the most well known endangered species because it is the nation’s symbol. It is suppose to stand for freedom and the American way, but if we allow the bald eagle to become extinct how can we let something that doesn’t exist anymore stand for freedom and the American way. Being the symbol of the nation, the bald eagle was put on the endangered species list faster than most species. When the bald eagle reached its low point in the 1960’s (400 pairs), it was put on the endangered species list. The many federal acts or programs, the “Endangered Species Act” being the most effective, that were created for the bald eagle show how much the government cares about the symbol of our nation. There are four major reasons why the bald eagle is an endangered species.
The first reason why the bald eagle became an endangered species is the pesticide DDT. This pesticide is a major reason because the pesticide did not really affect the eagles who absorbed the pesticide, but the pesticide made the shells of the eggs too soft. Because the shells were soft the eggs could not make it until they were ready to be hatched. Frank
Graham Jr., the author of the article “Winged Victory,” states that:
The species continued a steady decline into the 1950’s, when its extirpation south of Canada came close to reality. Protective laws were by then no help. Evidence began to build that DDT and other long-lived insecticides, made available to the public after World War II, were draining off of heavily sprayed farms and forests and contaminating aquatic food chains. Living at the top of those food chains, bald eagles accumulated the toxins in their tissues. (2)
Graham makes the point that the that the pesticide DDT is a reason for the bald eagle becoming an endangered species by expressing the fact that the pesticide DDT affects the eggs of the eagles. Since it affects the eggs, the population of the eagles suffer, and the bald eagle gets closer to becoming endangered species. “The bald eagle came dangerously close to extinction from eating fish that had been poisoned with the pesticide DDT. The birds that did not die immediately after eating the either could not reproduce or the shells of the eggs it laid were so thin that the babies could not survive” (Cessina B. Cornella 51). Cornella focuses on the point that sometimes the eagle will die from the pesticide itself. When an eagle dies, it not only lowers the population by one, but it also lowers it by how many offspring the eagle would had, therefore, pushing the bald eagle closer to becoming an endangered species.
The second reason why the bald eagles became an endangered species is hunting. Before the bald eagle was declared an endangered species, they were hunted as any other animal was. Despite being the symbol of the nation, the eagles were still considered a nuisance and were shot on sight. This ignorance brought the bald eagle closer to becoming an endangered species.
Historically, Americans treated their nation’s symbol about as well as they did their other natural resources. Recent guesstimates of eagle numbers at the time of European settlement range from 25,000 to 75,000 birds, though the species distribution was spotty. Feeding largely on fish and carrion, and thus harmless to human interest, bald eagles were nevertheless classed as vermin, to be shot on sight. (Graham 2)
Though the bald eagle is the nation’s symbol, people still saw them as vermin and shot them on sight. Not only were they shot because they were thought to be vermin, but they were also shot because they were considered to be great trophies. This lack of patriotism and lack of kindness to animals in general brought down the population of the bald eagle. Since the population of the bald eagle went down, the bald eagle became closer to becoming an endangered species.
The third reason why bald eagles became an endangered species is
the climate or habitat in which they live in. Depending on where the bald eagle lives, it can either thrive or it can suffer. Most of the time, the closer a population is to a human, the worse off they are because of pollution or just plain human interference. Dr. Lesile Brown, the world’s leading authority on eagle, states:
Of three discrete populations quite close to one another, in Wisconsin, Michigan and the Great Lakes, that in Wisconsin is stable, that in Michigan decreasing and that around the Great Lakes almost gone. These differences are clearly correlated with the level of pesticide residue and pollution in the Great Lakes, the Michigan lakes and the comparatively clean lakes of north Wisconsin. (193)
Brown’s statement supports the fact that habitat in which it lives is reason for the bald eagle becoming an endangered species. Not only can the habitat have an affect on the bald eagle, but the climate can also have an affect on the bald eagle as well. “The stable population of Bald Eagles in the Everglades National Park in Florida reproduces more slowly than that in Alaska or Wisconsin (0.73 per pair overall compared to 1.02 per nest for both Alaska and Wisconsin), perhaps because of the warmer climate”. (Brown 193) Brown focuses on why the eagles in the Everglades National Park in Florida do not reproduce as much as the eagles in Wisconsin and Alaska do. She states that it is probably because of the
warmer climate down in Florida. In Brown saying that the climate is probably why the eagles in Florida do not reproduce as many chicks as the ones in Wisconsin and Alaska, one can see that the climate had an affect on the bald eagle becoming an endangered species.
The fourth reason why the bald eagle became an endangered species is the pressures of man and civilization. Ever since man first came about, species of all different types of animals have been hurt from the interference in their habitats. As stated in the article “Endangered Species”:
We can no longer attribute the accelerating loss of our wild animals and plants to “natural” processes. Habitat destruction is followed by exploitation for commercial or other purposes. Disease, predation, inadequate conservation laws, pollution, and introduction of non-native species, or a combination of these, can contribute to a species’ decline. (2)
The statement made in the article “Endangered Species” focuses on the point that man is a big problem for the bald eagle. In just about every place where the bald eagle became endangered, man was there to lend a helping hand in making them endangered. Between commercial, residential, and industrial projects built by man, the habitat of the bald eagle has been greatly decreased. If there was no such thing as interference by man, the bald eagle, and many other species, would not
have become endangered for a long span of time.
These four major reasons for the bald eagle becoming an endangered species are only a few of all the reasons. Despite there being many reasons for the bald eagle becoming an endangered species, the all relate to one big reason. That reason being man. All four reasons listed have to do with man. The pesticide DDT deals with man by man being the one who created the pesticide. The climate and habitat problems are caused by the interference a man in an already balanced ecosystem. Hunting deals with man by man being the one who is hunting and killing the poor defenseless bald eagle. Civilization deals with man by man being the one of built and established the civilization. The civilization interferes with an already balanced ecosystem, knocking it out of balance. Without the inference of man, not only would the bald eagle not have become an endangered species as fast as it did, but no other species would have become an endangered species as fast as they did.