The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Be Proud That You Differ

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner

6 February 2008

Seeing our National bird, the Bald eagle reminds me there is always controversy, no matter how good of leaders we have in the U.S.A. The important thing is that we take part and vote in who we think are good leaders.

Don't expect perfection. It's not in your house is it?

Even Benjamin Franklin argued against choosing the Eagle as our national emblem.

He wrote from Paris: "For my part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly... Besides, he is a rank coward...."

I think the Eagle is really about survival and doesn't care how he looks to others. June 28, 2007 the Interior Department took the American bald eagle off the Endangered Species List. I'm glad he has survived.

A lesson from President Lincoln is that we must work to stay united. Differ, we will...we must, this is a democracy. If we aren't allowing differences in our country or our homes it is a sad affair, like forcing an eagle to think as a turkey.

Our majestic national bird is flying high over much of its former range and may soon be off the endangered list.

They ruled the skies on seven-foot (two-meter) wingspans when 17th-century Europeans arrived in North America. Throughout the continent, half a million bald eagles may have soared. But settlers blamed them for killing livestock, so shooting began-and the proud birds' numbers began to plunge.

In their northern range eagles remained relatively protected by isolation. But early last century, during Alaska's go-for-broke pioneer days, fishermen and fox farmers alleged that the birds were stealing their livelihood. The territorial legislature responded by enacting a bounty in 1917. By the time it was repealed in 1953, at least 128,000 bald eagles had been killed. It took 20 years for the Alaska birds to rebound. By 1973-the year the Endangered Species Act was passed-populations in Alaska and much of Canada were stable, so bald eagles were not protected by the act in Alaska or by federal law in Canada. Today some 100,000 thrive in those two locations.

In the lower 48 states the birds fared much worse. The Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940 prohibited shooting or otherwise harming the birds in the U.S. but didn't cover the pesticides that within a decade began to destroy eagles' eggs. By the 1960s only about 400 breeding pairs of bald eagles remained in the lower 48. "The trend . . . may well make it necessary for us to find a new national emblem," Rachel Carson warned in her 1962 masterwork, Silent Spring. The banning of DDT in 1972 and other measures launched an amazing comeback by the eagles, whose status changed from endangered to threatened in 1995. Today, with more than 6,000 breeding pairs, bald eagles have been taken off the endangered species list entirely, their survival is an icon secured-for now.