National Geographic : 2002 Jul
Species Act was passed-populations in Alaska and much of Canada were stable, so bald eagles were not protected by the act in Alaska or by federal law in Canada. Today some 100,000 thrive in those two locations. In the lower 48 states the birds fared much worse. The Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940 prohibited shooting or otherwise harming the birds in the U.S. but didn't cover the pesticides that within a decade began to destroy eagles' eggs. By the 1960s only about 400 breeding pairs of bald eagles remained in the lower 48. "The trend ... may well make it necessary for us to find a new national emblem,' Rachel Carson warned in her 1962 masterwork, Silent Spring. The banning of DDT in 1972 and other mea sures launched an amazing comeback by the eagles, whose status changed from endangered to threatened in 1995. Today, with more than 6,000 breeding pairs, bald eagles may soon be taken off the endangered species list entirely, their survival as an icon secured-for now.