U.S. national bird no longer federally protected - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

U.S. national bird no longer federally protected

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WASHINGTON - The American bald eagle's population is soaring. So high, in fact, that it no longer requires the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne says his department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are confident in the future security of the symbolic bird. Officials have made the recovery official by removing the eagle from the list of threatened species under the species protection law. The bird had been reclassified from
endangered to threatened in 1995.

Now over 10,000 strong, the bird has rebounded from a population of just 417 in 1963.

While no longer declared endangered, the bald eagle will continue to be protected by several state statutes and a 1940 federal law that makes it illegal to kill the bird.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

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