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Bald eagles are off the state’s list of endangered species.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission removed bald eagles and peregrine falcons from the state list of "sensitive species” last week. The commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The commission's action to reduce the state's protective status of bald eagles and peregrine falcons reflects the species' steady recovery since the 1970s, when the pesticide DDT was banned under federal law, according to information from WDFW.

Recent data from North America indicate that bald eagle population growth between 1966 and 2013 was 5.37 percent annually.

Most nest sites in Washington are along the coast and lower Columbia River, according to WDFW. Eagles are common in Kittitas County in late winter-early spring.

As of 2015, the total number of known bald eagles territories in the state was 1,334. The number is a cumulative number of sites, not the number that are known to be active in any particular year. The number of territories has increased by an average of 28 per year since 2005 when the species was downlisted in the state to sensitive. Bald eagles were first listed as endangered in 1978.

The change does not remove protections intended to sustain the population, according to WDFW. Bald eagles will continue to be protected under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Lacey Act.

In addition to delisting bald eagles and peregrine falcons, the commission also approved the reclassification of three other wildlife species. White pelicans were reduced from "endangered" to "threatened" status, while marbled murrelets and lynx were reclassified as "endangered" due primarily to the continuing loss of essential habitat.


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