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Every week there are new marvels to look for in the outdoors, and Discover Nature highlights these attractions. The Missouri Department of Conservation’s Josh Hartwig brings us the stories of river otters, luna moths, red buds, and other actors as they take center stage in nature’s theater.You can hear Discover Nature, Mondays at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Discover Nature: The Bald Eagle

Missouri Department of Conservation
American Bald Eagle Catching a Fish

In the early 1970s, America’s bald eagles were headed for extinction, and had become an endangered species. Although extinction is a natural process, the worldwide rate of extinctions has increased alarmingly due to human activities. 

For example, the bald eagle’s problems were caused by destruction of its habitat (lakes, rivers, and marshes), disturbance of its nests (often large and can be 13 feet deep and 8 feet across), pesticide and lead contamination of its prey (fish or carrion), and illegal hunting and trapping.

While extinction is forever, endangered means there is still hope to pull a species back from the brink. Congress banned the most harmful pesticides in the early 1970s, strict protective laws were enforced, critical eagle habitat was identified and protected, and eagles were reintroduced to areas where they had once flourished.

In 2007, they were removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species -- their recovery aided by the help and support of public and private landowners. Today, both the breeding range and the population size of bald eagles are expanding.

Eagles generally mate for life (reaching maturity around age 4 or 5), but if one of the pair disappears or dies, the survivor finds another mate, with courtship including special calls and flight displays.

More information about bald eagles in Missouri can be found online at missouriconservationorg.

Josh Hartwig is the host of Discover Nature and a media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation.
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