Assistant Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environmental Safety and Occupational Health Alex Beehler will represent the Defense Department in a ceremony today that marks the delisting of the bald eagle from the Department of the Interior’s Endangered Species List. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne will host the ceremony at the Jefferson Memorial at 10 a.m. EDT.
The bald eagle has made a remarkable comeback from the brink of extinction. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there were only about 400 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the United States in 1963, but today there are over 10,000 nesting pairs. This successful resurgence has been largely due to the cooperative efforts between federal, state, tribal, local, and private partners. The Defense Department played a significant role in that success.
The Department of Defense manages lands that host more than 440 active bald eagle nests on Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps facilities. Further, since the bald eagle is migratory, many hundreds of other bald eagles use DoD-managed lands as part of their habitat.
Defense Department environmental scientists, policy officials, and servicemembers worked together to plan and implement bald eagle management plans for each of these sites, in order to control human behavior and protect the natural habitat for the birds.
The bald eagle is not the only wildlife species that the Defense Department works to preserve. DoD lands support approximately 320 threatened and endangered species and nearly 550 species at risk. DoD has spent over $470 million on management of threatened and endangered animals.