Where Eaglets Dare
Banding the national bird at NAS Patuxent River
Spirituality, wisdom, strength, majesty, freedom: Eagles hold many different meanings among different cultures, throughout history and around the world. In 1782, Congress chose the bald eagle as the United States national bird for its beauty, strength and long life.
However, eagles haven't always thrived here in the U.S. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, after World War II, the effects of organo-chlorine pesticides (DDT) severely depleted nest production, and in 1969, bald eagles were listed under the Endangered Species Act. The DDT ban led to increasing populations, and, by the late 1970s, there were an estimated 80 eagle pairs nested in the Chesapeake Bay Region.
Bald eagles were finally removed from the endangered and threatened species list in 2007. However, because of their national significance as denoted by Congress, bald and golden eagles remain protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The population is under a 20-year monitoring plan to make sure it remains at sustainable levels, and the Navy is doing its part.
"The Commander, Naval Installations Command (CNIC), funds most of Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River's natural resource projects," said Jackie Smith, a natural resources specialist with Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Public Works. "Projects related to conservation of federally threatened and endangered species usually have the highest priority. Eagles, in this case, are the conservation of a formerly listed species for which monitoring is still required."