Target: Captain Christopher Sund, commanding officer of Naval Base Coronado
Goal: Call on military officials to do all they can to ensure the protection of the first mating pair of bald eagles to make their home on San Clemente Island in 50 years
The bald eagle is celebrated as a proud symbol of the United States. But bald eagles, like many raptors, are still recovering from the devastating effects of the toxic pesticide known as DDT. San Clemente Island off the coast of California hasn’t seen any breeding pairs in 50 years–until now. The eagles’ range is expanding, and their population beginning to stabilize. Yet these beloved birds are still under threat from human activity such as San Clemente’s Navy base, which hosts its last remaining ship-to-shore live firing range.
Both bald eagles in the mating pair on San Clemente are evidence of successful wildlife recovery efforts. The female, 10 years old, was released onto nearby Santa Cruz Island in 2004; her mate, a seven-year-old male, was also hatched in captivity according to a report by the Mother Nature Network. These incredible creatures mate for life, and conservationists are hopeful that their presence on San Clemente Island could mean the birth of new chicks in the wild.
The Navy maintains several facilities in or near the Channel Island chain, of which San Clemente is the southernmost island. Captain Christopher Sund, who commands this network of military facilities, is sworn to protect the wildlife and habitat of San Clemente Island as well as to ensure smooth operations for the sailors stationed there. Describing the newly observed bald eagles to the Mother Nature Network Captain Sund exclaimed, “This is good news for the continued recovery of the ecosystem of the Channel Islands and the Navy’s ongoing interest in protecting the environment.”
Call on Captain Sund to do his utmost to ensure that these first bald eagles to return to San Clemente Island can thrive there, and raise chicks of their own.
Dear Captain Sund,
San Clemente Island’s first resident bald eagle pair in 50 years is indeed something to celebrate. The recovery of these majestic birds, and their expanding range across the Channel Islands, represent the dedicated efforts of wildlife officials and volunteers over several decades. America was quite close to losing its eagles forever because of the cumulative and deadly effects of DDT.
While I am heartened by this pair’s robust health and companionship, I remain concerned for their long-term welfare. As you know, San Clemente Island is also home to the Naval Auxiliary Landing Field and a ship-to-shore live firing range. Several hundred military personnel are stationed on the island at any point in time.
Both the male and female eagles in this pair were raised in captivity, and there is real hope that they will go on to rear chicks of their own in the wild. Please, do all in your power to ensure that the pair of bald eagles now sharing San Clemente with the Naval Base, and their descendents, can lead long and healthy lives there.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Wknight94 via Wikimedia Commons