News Release: October 6, 2004
Increased protection petitioned for Southwestern Desert Nesting Bald Eagle
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a Petition to increase protection for the Southwest's population Desert Nesting Bald Eagles. Only approximately 166 individuals and less than 60 pairs of biologically, behaviorally and ecologically isolated Southwestern Desert Nesting Bald Eagles survive.
The Petition requests that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1) recognize the biologically, behaviorally and ecologically Isolated Southwestern Desert Nesting Bald Eagle Population (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) as a Distinct Population Segment, (2) to list this Population as Endangered, (3) and to designate Critical Habitat for this Population. The Fish and Wildlife Service has 90 days to reply to the Petition.
Even more help will be necessary if the Desert Nesting Bald Eagle is to survive increasing threats to its continued existence. These increasing threats include excessive mortalities for juveniles and adults, productivity decline, loss of riparian habitat, declining native fish prey base, harassment by civilian and military aircraft, pesticides, heavy metals, eggshell thinning, cattle grazing, decreasing availability of new nest trees, and permitted legal killing by USFWS for Federal projects.
A new CBD population viability analysis demonstrates a high risk of extinction for this population within the next 57 and 82 years independent of these increasing risks. The Petition counters Bush Administration efforts to remove protection from the Desert Nesting Bald Eagle population. The Bush administration is now even proposing "to ease export restrictions on American bald eagles" without regard to the discreteness and fragility of the Desert Nesting population.
CBD is joined in this effort by Maricopa Audubon Society and the Arizona Audubon Council.