|Bald Eagle- MDC Gallery|
"The eagle is a curse to the rest of the animal kingdom and the sooner it is exterminated, the better off the game will be." -Valdez Miner newspaper, Alaska, 1920From 1913 through 1953 Alaska actually had a bounty on eagles which some thought were destroying the salmon fishing industry. In a two year period alone they paid bounties on 27,843 eagles. Subsequent studies showed eagles had little effect on salmon fishing.
Meanwhile, in western states they were blamed for the deaths of young lambs. Their main diet is fish and carrion and being found eating a dead lamb was considered evidence of their guilt. Seven hundred dead bald eagles were found on a Wyoming sheep ranch, the victims of poison and shooting from a helicopter. It is now well accepted that they don't significantly prey on lambs.
We have come a long way in conserving wildlife since then, although local debates still occur over restoration of predators such as wolf and otter. At least we are now having the conversations.