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The Bald Eagle, America's national symbol since 1782, is a bird of prey unique to North America. Although an estimated 75,000 pairs nested at the start of the 19th century, by the 1960s only 450 nesting pairs remained in the lower 48 states. The bald eagle population was decimated by habitat destruction, hunting, pesticide use and lead poisoning (from eating waterfowl containing shotgun pellets). Alarmed by the magnitude of environmental degradation, the American public supported a series of laws in 1972 that sharply reduced the use of pesticides such as DDT. By 1995 the population had rebounded to over 4,500 nesting pairs, allowing the US Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the bird from its list of endangered species.

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Bald Eagle (Alaska, USA) by Dorothy S. Long
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