The bald eagle's scientific name is haliaeetus leucocephalus. It is a carnivore and primarily eats fish that it catches or steals kills from other animals. Its average lifespan in the wild is 28 years, but they have lived up to 48 years in zoos. Their body is 34 to 43 inches long, and their wingspan is 6 to 8 feet. They can be found across the United States, most of Canada, and some of Mexico. They are the national symbol of the U.S.
Causes of Endangerment
Eagles were hunted for sport and to protect fishing grounds from losing too many fish. The biggest reason for their endangerment, however, is pesticide runoff into bodies of water. Fish absorb the pesticide, and the eagles eat lots of fish. The pesticide weaken the bald eagle's egg shells, so reproduction became difficult.
Because the bald eagle is now the symbol of the United States, it is a protected species and cannot be hunted. Also, DDT, the pesticide most responsible for the decline of eagles, was greatly restricted in 1972. Population numbers of bald eagles have grown significantly throughout North America, especially in Alaska and Canada.