Several weekends ago a few of my friends and I camped out on a sandy beach along the Connecticut River. In the morning we pulled our beached boat back into the turbid water and raced out into the brightening day for a few hours of wakeboarding. The rising sun had begun to kiss my skin and I gazed up at the heavy boughs above the river's edge. I noticed a fleeting bird that had a big wingspan - probably 6 or 7 feet - and when noticing the unmistakable white head and tail on the dark brown body I was certain the bird I was watching was a bald eagle (Haliaetus leucocephalus). The bird flew intently north until it reached a bend where it disappeared behind the green leaves of looming cottonwoods. This was the first time many of my friends had ever seen a bald eagle.
More and more bald eagles are being spotted in Connecticut, especially during the winter when they gather along the Connecticut and Thames Rivers. This is a common trend throughout the entire country where bald eagles are making a remarkable comeback. This past June, America acknowledged an incredible conservation success when the the bald eagle was delisted from the Endangered Species List. In 1963 there were a mere 416 pairs existing in the lower 48 states. Today there are more than 10,000! There is argument about whether or not it was the implementation of the Bald Eagle Protection Act in 1940 or the banning of DDT in 1972 that spurred this dramatic repopulation, but it is clear that human intervention played a key role in this species' recovery. This is one of very few positive stories we hear today in regards to environmental conservation. What is important is that we use the few conservation success stories available to us in a way that motivates us to further support measures that enhance and/or mitigate damage to wildlife and other natural resources. It is a great feeling to be able to look up into the sky and see our national symbol soaring high above. It is now not only a symbol of freedom but a testament to human will and stewardship.