Polk County Conservation

Bald Eagle Recovery in Iowa

This podcast was produced by Polk County Conservation and funded by Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education program or REAP-CEP.

Hi, my name is Heidi Anderson. I am a naturalist with Polk County Conservation. (pause) It’s time to celebrate because the bald eagle has made a miraculous recovery in the United States and in Iowa. On August 8, 2007, the bald eagle was officially removed from the federal threatened and endangered species list under the Endangered Species Act. The bald eagle has a rocky history in the United States and has made a tremendous recovery in recent years.

It is estimated there were at least 25,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles in North America historically. The eagle population plummeted to only 417 pairs in the lower 48 states by 1963 due to years of habitat loss, pesticide use like DDT, and human persecution.

The bald eagle recovery began when the Environmental Protection Agency banned the general use of organochlorine pesticides, particularly DDT and DDE, in 1972. These pesticides interfered with the bird’s ability to produce strong egg shells. As a result, their eggs had shells so thin that they often broke during incubation or otherwise failed to hatch. DDT also affected other species such as peregrine falcons and brown pelicans.

The bald eagle also gained legal protection under the Endangered Species Act. Cooperative efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state conservation agencies, and conservation organizations led to protection of habitat around bald eagle nest and roost sites. These efforts were backed up by law enforcement measures and stiff penalties for violating this protection. Even though it is now delisted, the bald eagle continues to have strong legal protection from the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The good news is the population has rebounded to over 10,000 pairs today. (Bald eagle sound effect). In Iowa 210 active nests were found in 81 counties during 2007. This is far and above the original goal of 10 active nests in the state. These numbers are only estimates because the Iowa Department of Natural Resources no longer has the staffing to monitor many of these nests as well as search for new nests. Nest monitoring is left mostly to concerned citizens and volunteers. If you or anyone else you know finds a bald eagle nest, report it to Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Diversity Program.

If you would like to become a trained wildlife monitor, Iowa State University and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources offers a volunteer wildlife monitoring program called NatureMapping. This program trains citizens how to monitor and report the wildlife they observe and the habitats they observe them in. Visit iowadnr.gov for more information on how to participate.

This podcast was funded by REAP-CEP which is a program the State of Iowa invests in to enhance and protect the state's natural and cultural resources. REAP provides money for projects through state agency budgets or in the form of grants. For more information about REAP, visit iowareap.com.

Contact Us

Administration Office
12130 NW 128th St
Granger, IA 50109

P: (515) 323-5300
F: (515) 323-5354

Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

More Contacts