I’m lucky enough to make my home in a wooded area along the Potomac River, outside of Washington, DC. Many mornings when I leave my home, I see a bald eagle, sometimes two, perched in the trees, scanning the water below for their next meal. On a particularly good day I see them flying overhead, a fish clearly visible in their talons. The site never fails to fill me with awe and I always catch myself smiling, my thoughts turn towards gratitude and I need to remind myself to pay attention to the road.
Sights like the eagles in my suburban neighborhood are not the result of chance. As recently as 40 years ago, a relatively short time in the practice of wildlife conservation, there were less than 450 bald eagles in the Lower 48 States, their numbers decimated by habitat loss and poisoning of the environment. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act the eagle has recovered from the brink of extinction to over 4,500 nesting pairs.
The Endangered Species Act effectively safeguards America’s natural heritage. But conservation demands innovation, especially in an era of climate disruption where new challenges and opportunities continue to make themselves apparent. Recognizing this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the two agencies with chief responsibility for implementing the law, have begun filling policy gaps in the Endangered Species Act, improving implementation and providing resource managers and stakeholders greater clarity and assurances.