Bald Eagle Comeback Trail Leads to West Coast

One chemical company’s carelessness will pay for the return of one of its victims to the habitat from which it was nearly eliminated. Daniel B. Wood of the Christian Science Monitor reports that this summer a program funded by a $145 million settlement with the Montrose Chemical Company–a Los Angeles-based pesticide producer–will reintroduce the Bald Eagle to the northern Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California.

Montrose dumped an estimated 1,800 tons of DDT into the ocean between 1947 and 1971, and the chemical’s effects still linger in the area’s wildlife. Wood reports that the settlement is “the second largest of its kind in U.S. history, after the Exxon Valdez Alaskan oil spill.”

Besides harming the existing eagles in the area, the chemical thinned the eggshells of eagle chicks, thereby killing future generations.

The project, part of a larger program by the National Park Service to restore native wildlife to the islands, will explore and employ new technology in the surveillance of eagles that is designed to make tracking of the birds easier than previous methods.

The reintroduction of eagles into this particular region is especially momentous, and Wood quotes one biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as saying: “What makes this crucial is that this is one of the key coastal areas in the country where the bald eagle was once very strong but has not yet come back.”
–Julie Madsen
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