Indiana's residential eagle may be flightless, but that hasn't stopped him from helping others soar. C-52, a rescued bald eagle, is considered a symbol of Indiana's successful bald eagle reintroduction program.
As recently as twenty years ago the Bald Eagle was dangerously close to becoming extinct throughout the lower 48 states - Indiana included. Today, they're back from the brink and doing better than ever.
In 1782, the Bald Eagle was named our national symbol as it represented strength, courage and freedom. Today it can easily be considered a symbol of survival. In June 2007, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services removed the bald eagle from the endangered species list more than sixty years after it was first protected by federal law.
Habitat loss, over-hunting and the now banned pesticide DDT were largely to blame for the eagles rapidly declining numbers between 1870 and 1970. In Indiana, bald eagles were expatriated by 1900 due to the loss of wetland habitats. As breeding pairs continued to decrease in size throughout the country, it was apparent that something had to be done.
Indiana’s efforts to restore the bald eagle began in 1985. Seventy three young bald eagles were reintroduced at Lake Monroe in the span of four years. These eagles formed a core population in south-central Indiana that has grown significantly since then. The first successful bald eagle nest in Indiana was documented in 1991. By 2004, the federal recovery goal for Indiana for five nesting pairs was achieved. Today, one hundred pairs have been documented. This robust trend upward gave us good reason to remove the bald eagle from the state’s endangered species list in 2007 which was encouraged by its removal from the federal endangered species list a year prior.
Though the bald eagle will remain a species of special concern - meaning monitoring and management will continue, though at a lesser degree - the removal of the iconic bird from our endangered species list is a great victory for all Hoosiers. A big thanks is in order for the hard work DNR and its partners did to have the bald eagle back nesting and raising its young along Indiana lakes, rivers and waterways once again.