Today, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) welcomed Challenger the Eagle of Pigeon Forge, TN to the United States Capitol. Challenger and his handler Al Cecere, president of the American Eagle Foundation, were in town to commemorate the introduction of Senate Resolution 146—a resolution that designates June 20, 2007 as “American Eagle Day,” and that also celebrates the recovery and restoration of the American bald eagle, the national symbol of the United States.
Joining Senator Alexander at the press conference were Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO).
Senator Alexander and Senator Byrd are the lead sponsors of the American Eagle Day Resolution. In addition to naming “American Eagle Day,” the resolution:
· Celebrates the recovery and restoration of the American bald eagle, the national symbol of the United States.
· Encourages educational entities, businesses, conservation groups, government agencies, and others to collaborate on information about bald eagles for use in schools.
· Encourages the American people to observe American Eagle Day with appropriate ceremonies and other activities.
The dramatic recovery of the bald eagle population is an endangered species success story and inspirational example for other wildlife conservation efforts around the world. In 1963, the number of nesting pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 States had dropped to about 417. By 2006, that number had increased to approximately 7,000 to 8,000 nesting pairs. Because of this success, later this year the Administration is expected to officially delist the bald eagle from both the “endangered” and “threatened” species lists under the Endangered Species Act.
Other cosponsors of Senate Resolution 146 include Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Wayne Allard (R-CO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
This is not the first time Challenger has come to visit. Challenger joined Alexander in 2004 when the senator introduced the American Bald Eagle Recovery and National Emblem Commerative Coin Act, which authorized the U.S. Mint to create a special commemorative coin that financially supports efforts to protect the American eagle. That legislation was signed into law by President Bush in 2004.