Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
The following letter to the Oregonian
responds to the article below the letter.
A winter sky alive with bald eagles, Oregonian letter, preceded by Eagle Myths by Jim Beers, retired FWS biologist and refuge manager.
Rick Attig's sentimental paean to the Endangered Species Act and Bald Eagles
is misplaced and inaccurate.
Bald Eagles recovered because of the DDT ban pure and simple, period.
Bald eagles were under Federal jurisdiction and protection since the passage
of the Bald Eagle Protection Act in 1940. The Endangered Species Act did
NOTHING to speed up or improve the recovery of that species. Protecting
nest trees was simply "feel-good" window dressing. Eagles will build other
nests and even use tall structures quite readily. Anything else done in line
with our Constitution for eagles was achievable under the Bald Eagle
For Mr. Attig to use this hokey biology to then say the Endangered Species
Act works (it doesn't), and that the government TAKING PRIVATE PROPERTY
WITHOUT COMPENSATION is a good thing, and finally that Congressman Pombo's
brave attempt to reform this harmful Act THAT HAS GONE UNAUTHORIZED FOR 20+
YEARS (when Federal law requires that it be reauthorized every 5 years) is
rivaled only by the lies of totalitarian dictatorships in the dustbin of
For you to publish such propaganda is disappointing to say the least.
Retired Wildlife Biologist, Refuge Manager, Special Agent
US Fish and Wildlife Service
A winter sky alive with bald eagles
Sunday, February 19, 2006
-- Rick Attig
Shivering in the predawn darkness on an icy February morning in Oregon's
Klamath Basin, you wonder whether it is worth the long drive, the wake-up
call at an ungodly hour and the teeth-rattling cold.
Then a dark shape soars overhead. And another. Soon so many bald eagles are
in the sky above Bear Valley that you lose count. Finally, as the morning
sun lights up the basin, the last of scores of bald eagles flies overhead,
its head and tail feathers a brilliant white in the blue winter sky.
So was it worth it -- all of it? The costly, controversial ban on DDT and
other pesticides that thinned the eggs and nearly crushed the bald eagle and
other species? The tens of millions of public and private dollars spent on
eagle recovery? The hardships imposed on property owners forced to give over
their land, or at least its active use, to protect the nesting sites of
protected bald eagles?
The answers perch at Bear Valley, where eagles roost at night, and fly out
at dawn every morning to hunt the flats of the Klamath National Wildlife
Refuge and private farms. The Klamath Basin is home to the largest
concentration of wintering eagles in the lower 48 states, and it hosts an
annual mid-February eagle conference.
This weekend's conference is a celebration. The bald eagle is back. Today
there are more than 7,000 known nesting pairs of bald eagles in the lower
48, up from just 417 pairs 40 years ago. Last week the Interior Department
issued draft guidelines that spell out how landowners and land managers
should protect the bird once it is removed from the endangered species list.
The bald eagle may come off the list within the next year. Yes, some people
are still opposed to the delisting of the eagle, worried that protections
for the bird will be weakened. But it is time.
Meanwhile, the nation is embroiled in a larger debate about the Endangered
Species Act. Republicans in the U.S. House have pushed through a bill that
would dramatically weaken the act, under the guise of making it more
efficient. The act, which became law more than 30 years ago, sorely needs
updating. But its fundamentals, including protection of habitat critical to
each endangered species, must not be changed.
It is always going to take time, money and persistence to save a species of
wildlife. Yet in the dim light of a cold February morning in the Klamath
Basin, the sky alive with bald eagles, there is no doubt.
It is worth it.
-- Rick Attig
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM Pacific
Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2005, All Rights Reserved