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Senate Passes Sessions-Sponsored Bill Celebrating American Eagle Day
Thursday, June 21, 2012
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) issued a statement today after the Senate passed S.RES. 498, a measure he co-sponsored to designate June 20, 2012 as “American Eagle Day” and to celebrate the recovery of the American Bald Eagle:
“The Bald Eagle is recognized the world over as a proud symbol of American strength,” Sessions said. “As the only eagle native to North America, it is a national treasure that must be preserved and protected. I’m especially pleased that this year’s declaration applauds the fantastic work that Auburn University is doing to rehabilitate and release eagles and other birds of prey. The University’s Southeastern Raptor Center has played a vital role in the restoration of the Bald Eagle to a place of national prominence.”
Sessions worked to ensure that this year’s resolution included new language to more fully reflect the bald eagle’s status as a symbol of American sovereignty. At Sessions’ request, language was also added to recognize the work of the Southeastern Raptor Center at Auburn University. Since the 1970s, the Southeastern Raptor Center has rehabilitated and released thousands of birds of prey. The Center also holds educational programs aimed at raising awareness about the state of the species, and its eagles have famously maintained an iconic presence at the University’s athletic events.
Background On ‘American Eagle Day’ And The Auburn University Southeastern Raptor Center:
The American Bald Eagle, which has been protected under the Bald Eagle Protection Act since 1940, was classified as an endangered species in 1967 after severe population declines; as of 1963 there were only 417 nesting pairs recorded in the lower 48 states. By 2007, Bald Eagle populations in the lower 48 states had soared to 10,000 nesting pairs (with an additional 50,000 to 70,000 eagles residing in Alaska), resulting in its removal from the list of species threatened with extinction.
For the past several years, the House and Senate have passed annual resolutions designating an “American Eagle Day.” The date was chosen to commemorate the Second Continental Congress’ June 20, 1782 decision to select the Bald Eagle as the national emblem for the United States. At that time, William Barton, a designer of the national symbol, wrote that the Bald Eagle was “emblematical” of the sovereignty, power, and authority of the United States.
The Auburn University Southeastern Raptor Center, which played a significant role in the recovery of the American Bald Eagle species, was established in the mid-1970s to treat injured eagles and other birds of prey. Since the Center’s founding, it has expanded from a raptor barn and set of flight cages to include a sophisticated hospital, a separate raptor training facility, and an amphitheater used for educational activities.
The Center now receives more than 200 birds per year for treatment. Together with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, the Southeastern Raptor Center is releasing a rehabilitated bald eagle this week at Paradise Public Fishing Area near Tifton, Georgia.
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