The bald eagle was chosen June 20, 1782 as the emblem of the United States of America, because of its long life, great strength and majestic looks, and also because it existed only in North America. The Bald Eagle is thus a symbol of pride in our country. The Bald Eagle helps maintain a sense of patriotism in our country.
Eagles around the world are also symbolic of many high cultural values. Eagles are mentioned at least 30 times in the Bible, mostly as symbols of high values, such as “Rise up, as if on the wings of eagles”.
Northern State University of Aberdeen, SD provided the following report on the value of eagles:
“The feathers of golden and bald eagles are sacred to American Indians as symbols of God and the values the people hold toward nature and humanity. Because eagles represent power and strength, their feathers adorned the clothes of great Lakota and Dakota leaders with each feather representing a courageous deed. People are presented with eagle feathers in recognition of actions that bring benefit or honor to the Lakota people. The Lakota and Dakota people believe that eagle feathers possess spirit and power and are the closest connection people can have to God. The eagle is honored in an eagle dance performed by men wearing eagle feathers in their hair and carrying fans made from eagle tail feathers. This dance is still performed at many powwows today. Whistles made from the bones of eagles are used in the Sun Dance, the most sacred ceremony of the Lakota and Dakota people. As the national symbol of the United States, the bald eagle is of immeasurable value as an example of our American heritage.”
Conservation of the bald eagle serves as a reminder of the success people can have in saving endangered species.”
Viewing of Bald Eagles contributes strongly to the economy in many states. According to the National Survey of Wildlife Related Recreation for 2006, 20 million people took trips away from their homes during 2006 to observe and photograph wild birds. Total wildlife viewing expenditures were $45.7 BILLION. Birds provide about 88% of the wildlife viewing in the U.S. Eagles are the most valued viewable bird species, as evidenced by the large number of eagle festivals, featuring eagle viewing and educational programs (see “Eagle Festivals and Events” in the “Educational Resources” section within the American Eagle Foundation’s web site, www.eagles.org.
Bald Eagles serve as a valuable indicator on the health of the environment, as indicated by the following quote from a Maine conservation group:
“Some people value what bald eagles embody as a symbol, others value their role as an indicator of environmental health. As a top-level predator living off several different levels of the food chain, eagles are in fact the most vulnerable part of the natural system. If the most vulnerable part of the system blinks out, we have to wonder what else is at risk. If we pay attention to these animals that serve as indicators of the health of our environment, we can judge how stable the system is for all of us, that system of which we are a part.”
by Bob Hatcher, Blog Editor and AEF Eagle Correspondent