WASHINGTON (CN) – Bald eagles in the Sonoran Desert were officially removed from the list of endangered species after an Arizona federal judge lifted an injunction barring delisting of the Sonoran population along with the rest of the bald eagles living in the contiguous United States.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted bald eagles nationally in 2007 after it determined that the species had sufficiently recovered from its drastic decline during the first half of the 20th century.
Earlier, however, the Center for Biological Diversity and Maricopa Audubon Society had challenged the agency’s previous decision not to list nesting populations of the bald eagle in the Sonoran desert.
While the case was pending, the U.S. District Court of Arizona placed an injunction on the agency that prevented it from delisting the Sonoran population.
In 2008 the court granted summary judgment to the nonprofits and ordered the agency to conduct a full status review of the Sonoran population.
According to the agency’s February 2010 status review, the Sonoran eagles were not a distinct population segment and therefore could not be listed as endangered or threatened under the act. The court lifted its injunction in September.
Eagles across the entire country are protected by the Bald and Gold Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits anyone from hunting the birds or taking their feathers, eggs or nests without a permit issued by the secretary of the interior.