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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is moving forward with plans to drop the bald eagle from the endangered species list.

The eagle population had been devastated by the nationwide use of DDT, a pesticide that was introduced and widely used after World War II. By 1963, just 487 active eagle nests remained. The USFWS recently estimated that 7,066 breeding pairs now exist.

DDT, which was banned in the United States in 1972, impaired the formation of the eagles’ shells, causing many to break during incubation, the service says.

“The best available scientific and commercial data available indicates that the bald eagle has recovered,” the service says on its Web site.

A nesting pair of bald eagles, and their newborn chick, is living at Lake Henshaw near Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

The eagle has been listed as threatened since 1995. It would still be protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibit killing the birds.

The public comment period on the move to de-list the bald eagle closed Monday.

ROB DAVIS

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