Americans Should Fight Efforts to Weaken Landmark Law That Protects Species from Extinction, According to NRDC

Statement by Andrew Wetzler, Director of NRDC's Endangered Species Project

(February 15, 2006) -- This week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to remove the American bald eagle from the endangered species list. The following is a statement by NRDC senior attorney Andrew Wetzler.

"Since the beginning of the Republic, the bald eagle has been a symbol of America's fierce determination and our wealth of natural splendor," said Wetzler. "Now it also symbolizes something else: the success of the Endangered Species Act.

"Just as Americans were determined to bring back the bald eagle, we must be resolute in our determination to protect all threatened and endangered species. In addition to protecting individual species, we must fight attempts in Congress to weaken the Endangered Species Act. The law must remain strong because extinction is irreversible. If a species dies out, we don't get a second chance.

"Finally, we must continue to keep a close eye on the bald eagle to ensure that its numbers don't slip again. Appropriate measures are still needed to protect breeding birds and their habitat. And questions still remain about the southern, winter-nesting population of eagles in the Southwest. These birds, in particular, need careful monitoring and protection."