Eagle Population Soars In Tenn., Activist Says Work Not Complete

Pigeon Forge, Tenn. (AP) -- The American Bald Eagle is soaring again in Tennessee thanks to state and citizen-led restoration efforts. But activist Al Cecere says the work to fully restore the national bird isn't over.

Cecere founded the American Eagle Foundation, based at Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge.

He and the center's free-flying eagle Challenger joined Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in Washington Thursday to announce that the bald eagle, once nearly wiped out by hunters and DDT poisoning, will no longer require protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Nowhere has the gain from rescued eagles been greater than in Tennessee, where more than 300 captive-bred and trans-located eaglets have been released since the early 1980s, more than any other state.

Only one pair of eagles was recorded in Tennessee in 1983. Today, there are about 115 pairs.

Wildlife officials say there are more than 11,000 pairs in the nation, up from 417 pairs in 1963.

(Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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