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Eagle Comeback In South Dakota

The South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Department is looking at a proposal to remove bald eagles from the state endangered and threatened species list. In 2007, bald eagles were taken off the federal endangered species list but remain protected.

The bald eagle population has steadily increased in South Dakota with around 300 nesting adult eagles across the state. The US Wildlife Service hoped to have 1,200 birds nationally to take the species off the list. John Halverson is the co-founder and educational director for the Black Hills Raptor Center. He says if the eagles are taken off the list they will remain heavily protected.

Halverson says, “The Migratory Bird Protection Act of 1918 and then the later Raptor Protection Act are still going to be on the books and those are federal laws. State laws also prohibit the take of eagles whether it’s intentional or unintentional. It is illegal to take these birds in any way, shape or form. So they are protected, they will always be protected and one of our deepest concerns is that somebody may think they can get away with shooting them. And that’s just not the case at all.”

A public hearing for the proposal is August 6th in Aberdeen. Soon after state wildlife officials will vote whether or not to remove bald eagles from the list. For South Dakota Public Broadcasting, I’m Levi Gutz.