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Flying To New Heights: Bald Eagle Population Quadruples Over 12 Years

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg General Assignment Reporter
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The population of America’s national symbol has quadrupled over the last 12 years.

The United States’ bald eagle population sits at more than 300,000, including more than 71,000 nesting pairs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) reported Wednesday. That number is up from more than 30,000 nesting pairs in 2009, and a low of fewer than 500 nesting pairs in 1963. More than 72,000 bald eagles lived in the United States in 2009, according to CBS News.

“Today’s announcement is truly a historic conservation success story,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said. “This work could not have been done without teams of people collecting and analyzing decades’ worth of science.”

Bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list in 2007, after the FWS determined that the population reached recovery goals. Intentionally harming a bald eagle is still a federal crime that can lead to fines and jail time. (RELATED: Bald Eagle Rips Off Drone’s Propellers And Sends Flying Vehicle Into Lake, State Agency Announces)

America’s bald eagle population collapsed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries due to a combination of habitat loss and poisoning from pesticides, according to the FWS. In 1972, the U.S. government banned DDT, a poisonous compound used in pesticides that caused bird eggs to weaken and crack.

American bald eagles are most commonly found in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, although birdwatchers can spot them in all 50 states.