By Liz Lyons, Conservation Education Supervisor
For those of us who love the outdoors, cold weather means opportunity—the annual chance to see bald eagles right here in the St. Louis area. In 1782, the bald eagle was formally adopted as our national emblem. At that time, experts believed there were probably as many as 20,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles in what is now the United States.
Over the next 200 years, however, those numbers dwindled. Bald eagles were victims of human encroachment, habitat destruction, environmental contamination, and poaching. The bald eagle population was so small, that in 1978 the federal government declared the bald eagle an endangered species.
From 1981 to 1990, the Missouri Department of Conservation, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Dickerson Park Zoo, released 74 young bald eagles in Missouri to reestablish them as nesters. Efforts such as these paid off—bald eagles recovered dramatically. In 1995, the bald eagle’s status in the U.S. was changed from endangered to threatened. Today, the bald eagle is considered fully recovered.
The Missouri Department of Conservation holds several Eagle Days events to celebrate the return of the bald eagle throughout the state. These events are often co-sponsored by other agencies, offer children’s activities, and are free to the public. Take a couple of hours, bundle up the kids, and head to an Eagle Days event near you.
St. Louis Eagle Days is held at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, I-270 and Riverview Drive, January 15 & 16, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information on this event, visit www.confluencegreenway.org/eagledays.php
For information about other Eagle Days events in the state, visit www.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/programs/eagle-days