There is no single cause as to why the bald eagle population decreased so greatly after the European settlers arrived on American shores. Before the European settlers arrived scientist estimate that there were about half a million bald eagles. Bald eagles lived from the northern areas of Canada to the southern tip of Florida, from California to Alaska, throughout the Great Lakes region and on every concentration of big lakes and rivers. So, how did the eagle population decrease if they were in great supply before? Most of the reason is poisoning from the farmers pesticides, power line electrocution, poaching, and destruction of their natural habitat.
The most lethal factor for the future of bald eagles is the wreaking of their natural environments. As the human population increased, the eagle population decreased. The main factor for this lies in many key reasons. One of these reasons was the fact that the human need for wood is great. Now you may ask, what does wood have to do with bald eagles? Well, as I’m sure you know, wood is the body of trees and bald eagles, like many other birds, live in nests in trees forty to seventy feet from the ground. Each nest is made of branches, sticks, twigs, leaves and trash. Bald eagles live in the same nests all their lives, with their mate, having one to three babies per year. Also, another reason is waterfront property, everyone wants it, but that is the problem. That is where the bald eagles prey, fish, live. When you place your home in front of a large water mass you are limiting their nesting options.
Secondly, even though law prohibits it, poaching of bald eagles is still a threat to their well-being. In Cowichen Valley, Canada, the most unlikely people have been killing off fifty eagles a year for the past ten years. One person states ‘ not a week that goes by that at night you don’t hear rifle shots’. Well, then who is responsible for all the dead eagles? For the most part the bald eagles in Cowichen Valley are being killed by the natives in that region. One native man from that area was found with a storage locker full of one-hundred dead eagles, and ninety pairs of eagle talons. That man was sentenced to nine years in jail. A small price to pay for that crime, I think. Also, Canadian authorities don’t plan to add to the charges any further. Yet, at one time in history farmers put a bounty on bald eagles because the farmers believed they were killing livestock. When settlers arrived they saw the eagles as competition. Humans shot them for food and game.
The bald eagle is the second largest bird in north America and the first is the California Conador. Yet, the eagle's size can be an advantage or a disadvantage. The advantage is that it sits happily on the top of its food chain. The disadvantage is that when landing on power poles and taking off, the flapping of its massive wings hits power boxes electrocuting them to death. Also, in bad weather, power lines seem invisible making it easy for the eagles to run into, also, electrocuting them to death.
The last thing killing off the eagles is poision from farmers' pesticides. Some of the pesticides are strong enough that surrounding wildlife will not or would not recover for three to five generations. Also, DDT, a pesticide that was popular a few years back, was banned because of the immemse amount of eagles it killed. DDT was so powerful that it still affects eagles in certain areas of the U.S., even though it has been banned for over thirty years. Yet, Mexico still can use it.
To help the bald eagle, a few precautions have been made. In 1940, the Bald Eagle Protection Act was established. The act has increased public awareness of the diminishing bald eagle population. It also made it illegal to shoot, poison, collect or trade bald eagle parts.