Log in Subscribe
Inside Out

Near extinction and back again

Jeanne Sager
Posted 7/27/21

An eagle! An eagle!

Now imagine someone yelling it but in a tone that’s both mocking and amused.

Welcome to live with a Sullivan County teenager.

I should have expected this. I was one …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in
Inside Out

Near extinction and back again

Posted

An eagle! An eagle!

Now imagine someone yelling it but in a tone that’s both mocking and amused.

Welcome to live with a Sullivan County teenager.

I should have expected this. I was one once.

More than once I stood on a football field with my gym class as my gym teacher shouted for us all to look upward to take in our national bird as it circled above us. We looked. We said nothing. We rolled our eyes… hard.

For a kid growing up in Sullivan County — in a home on the Delaware River no less — seeing a bald eagle was anything but a big deal. This was true even in the 1980s when the fierce-eyed bird was firmly on the endangered species list.

We saw them.

We were forced to acknowledge them.

And we moved on.

Fast forward a few decades, and the national symbol is considered a win for the Endangered Species Act. In 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially removed bald eagles from the federal endangered species list.

Fast forward a few decades, and I now understand far better than 8-, 10-, or even 16-year-old me what it means to have seen a species near the brink of extinction rocket back to where it is today.

I’ve lost the cynicism of my childhood.

I’ve come to appreciate the frailty of life.

And I can’t help but shout out when I spot a giant bird with a 7-foot wing span floating past, sticks at least 4 foot in length clenched in its claws.

An eagle! An eagle!

They beat DDT. They survived the theft of their habitat. They managed to make it past the lead shot scare.

They made it to the brink of extinction and back again.

And in a few decades, maybe today’s teens will see what it is they could have lost.

Maybe.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here