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Issue Home January 4, 2005 Site Home

Slices Of Life
100 Years Ago
Along the Way...With P. Jay

From the Desk of the D.A.

Earth Talk

Slices of Life

Like Losing An Old Friend

This is the time of year that I really miss the Montrose Department Store. With Christmas behind us, everything in the store would go on sale and I would start doing Christmas shopping for next year. The men’s department was my target, because of the high quality sweaters that would be fifty percent off. And the nice gloves, shirts; all those gift items that had been overstocked.

As I’m sitting here in my "thinking" chair, drinking coffee and remembering, I’m wearing a gorgeous Vanity Fair robe that was a Christmas present bought at that store probably fifteen years ago, and it’s only now beginning to show some wear. It has accompanied me on many weekend trips, across the United States, to the hospital on a few occasions, on vacations, and been my early morning companion through cold winter months. No matter where I wear it, someone says, "Oh, what a beautiful robe!" And they are right.

This was a product of an after-Christmas sale. I saw it hanging there, calling out to me. I’m sure with all the holiday shopping I’d just done, I had no extra money to buy the robe, which, even at fifty percent off was pricey. So, I came home and said to my husband, "I just found what I want for Christmas next year." Then I went on to describe the robe, not forgetting to mention the 50% off.

Of course he said, "Go buy it while it’s still there." I did. Right back to the store I went and purchased the robe with money from my husband’s pocket. The clerk placed it in a big gift box. I brought it home and stashed it in a closet (or under a bed – I can’t quite remember) until the following Christmas. What a beautiful, long-lasting gift that was.

As I was trudging from store to store at the Town Square Mall late this holiday season, trying to find something of quality that I thought my family and friends would like, I was longing for the Montrose Department Store. It wasn’t only the Christmas season I was remembering. Year round, I could find almost anything I needed there.

I loved the shoe department in the basement. Not only my every day shoes, boots and Keds came from there, but also my gorgeous high heels that I loved so much and wore with class in my slimmer days.

The fabric department was a magnet for me, too. Because I sewed almost all of my own clothes and most of the children’s, as well as special things for my husband, I spent many hours poring over fabrics, notions and patterns there. And I wasn’t alone. The one drawback was that you might see a mirror image of yourself in town.

I am reminded of one spring when a particularly flamboyant, flowered pattern bolt of fabric appeared on the shelf. I went to the Simplicity pattern book and found a plain, straight sleeveless dress that would be perfect for this showy fabric. Wearing this lovely summer dress one day, I stopped at the home of a church acquaintance, only to see myself when she opened the door. Same fabric, same pattern. That didn’t stop either of us from wearing it, though.

The Montrose Department Store was a grand store and I miss it, not only at Christmas, but year round. I think that part of the nostalgia is not only the store, but also the reminders of the era of my life in which it was a centerpiece. Caring for my husband, children and home was always the most important thing in my life. So reminders from that era stand out as milestones and cause me to be very nostalgic.

Bob Babcock’s cheerful greeting welcomed every customer. He always seemed to be there when the store was open. His flock of friendly, efficient, long-time salespeople made the shopping experience more like a social outing than a chore. And then there were always those signs along the highway reminding us how many miles we were from the Montrose Department Store. How I miss it all.

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100 Years Ago

RUSH: S. H. Smith writes: “About three weeks ago I purchased a herd of cattle of a Mr. Seymour, of Binghamton, N.Y. I bought them square and honorable; paid spot cash for them and took his receipt. I did not smuggle them in the night from New York State into Pennsylvania. Furthermore, none of them were condemned. I drove them through the city of Binghamton between the hours of 10 and 11 o’clock a.m. Now, I wish to say, for the information of all concerned, and also for my own defense, that the story which has been current that these cattle had been condemned is absolutely false and entirely without foundation. Before this rumor came to me, however, I had disposed of five of the herd, two of which have been tested and declared healthy. Two others I sold to a neighbor who was perfectly satisfied they were healthy without having them tested. The remainder I had tested by a veterinary, who pronounced them all healthy except one. That all may know the facts in the case I make this statement for publication.”

MONTROSE: The Montrose Telegraph and Telephone company have completed their lines to Angle Corners, Rushboro, Retta and West Auburn and give their patrons this addition to the already large number of places they can get without extra charge. AND: Brig-Gen Edward R. Warner died Jan. 2, 1905, at the Hotel Marlborough, New York, of heart disease. He was born in Montrose, 69 years ago and was graduated from West Point in 1857. In the war he was a Lieutenant-Colonel of Volunteers and was later an Inspector of Artillery on Gen. Mead’s staff. After the war he was appointed assistant professor of mathematics at West Point. Later he was in command of the artillery at San Francisco, where he remained until 1880, when he retired. He was an expert on ordinance and made trips to other countries to study the work of foreign artillery for the benefit of our army. One of his pupils at West Point was Gen. Fred Grant, who when notified of his death, sent over from Governors Island, a guard which escorted Gen Warner’s body to the Pennsylvania railroad depot in Jersey City and watched it all night until it was brought back to Montrose. Col. Warner recently gave $1000 for the erection of a historical building in Montrose, as a memorial to his father and mother.

SPRINGVILLE: Mr. and Mrs. Lucius E. Williams celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at their home in Newark Valley, N.Y., on Wednesday evening, Dec. 28. Mrs. Williams was before marriage, Miss Anna Lane, daughter of Thomas Lane, one of the leading citizens and early settlers of Springville. Among the guests present, of whom there were about 65, were Mr. and Mrs. George Haldeman, of Springville. AND: A.O. Dunlap, Springville’s enterprising hardware dealer, gave each of the churches a Bissell carpet sweeper for a Christmas present and is also giving out some nice calendars with a picture of Springville on them.

STEVENSVILLE, Bradford Co.: While visiting near Stevensville, Frank Riley, of Auburn 4 Corners, was seriously stabbed with a jack knife in the hands of one Ulysses Emmons, on Thursday afternoon of last week. Riley is in a precarious condition and was taken to a hospital in Wilkes-Barre on Friday evening. Riley and Emmons were in Wyalusing on Wednesday and when they went home that afternoon were a little the worse for wear. Mrs. Emmons objected to their condition and the two men stayed that night at “Snide” Shumway’s. About 4 o’clock the next afternoon Emmons called Riley upstairs and after a word or two he made a lunge for Riley’s heart with a knife. Riley attempted to escape but was cut in the region of the heart. Emmons then went after Riley like a mad man and the latter threw up his right hand and received a stab through the palm of his hand and his left arm near the shoulder was also frightfully cut. Shumway was called and his timely assistance probably saved Bradford county another murder case. The interested parties are very reticent regarding the affair, but it us surmised that there was a woman in the case.

SUSQUEHANNA: New theatre chairs have been placed in Hogan Opera House. AND: The Athletic Club held a hop on Monday evening and the Century Club held a hop on Wednesday evening; the Thimble Club recently met with Mrs. Edward Owens.

DIMOCK: Edward Chamberlin is again at the shop of C. W. Barnes, where the ring of his anvil can be heard as in times of yore. AND: A new derrick has been erected in the large Chase stone quarry near Dimock.

BROOKLYN: Among the many guests in town during the holidays are: Mrs. Gerritson, of Montrose, Miss Kornmann of New York, Mr. and Mrs. Bond of Great Bend, Earle Ainey of Philadelphia, Clarence Gere of Perkomia Seminary, Prof. and Mrs. Robert Breed of Meadville, Ralph Bookstaver of Schenectady, Louis Gere of Kingston, Mabel Rogers and Clare Whitman of Kingston Seminary, Harold Gere of Keuka, and Lela Sterling of Mansfield State Normal.

BIRCHARDVILLE: A young man by the name of James Edward Robinson came to the home of C. R. Bennett, Dec. 16th, claiming he had no home, no friends, no place to go, asking for work. Mr. B., feeling sorry for him, took him in and fed him as he would like people to do by his son, only to be rewarded by being robbed by the young scamp. He stayed until the 24th of Dec., then stole Mr. B’s son’s best clothes and gun and departed for parts unknown. He is a German by birth, 5ft, 7in., weighing about 135 lbs., black eyes and hair, face badly broken out. People are requested to inform the Constable of Friendsville if they know him or where he is.

HOPBOTTOM: Bessie Tiffany, after spending the holidays here, returned Monday to the Woman’s Medical College at Baltimore.

QUAKER LAKE: The skating on the lake is fine and many are taking advantage of it. AND: Chickenpox is visiting the children at the Quaker Lake school.

FRANKLIN FORKS: The following officers were elected by the G.A.R. for 1905: Commander, George Stockholm; Senior Vice, J. W. Palmer; Junior Vice, Job Knapp; Quartermaster, A.M. Snow; Chaplain, A. E. Stockholm; Door Keeper, John Devine.

FOREST CITY: A real estate deal that may have a very beneficial effect on the growth here was consummated when H. W. Brown became owner of the Williams tract on the east side of the river, from J. J. Williams, of Scranton. The plot contains over 60 acres and includes the old ball field and the woods known as Father Coroner’s grove. The land is being surveyed and plotted by an engineer and will be put on the market. Already he has closed contracts for several lots and contractor H. T. O’Neill has the lumber on the ground for a large building, which it is said will be designated for hotel purposes. The plot, owing to its proximity to the railroad, and the opportunity for cheap fuel, is an excellent location for factory purposes and Mr. Brown will make efforts to attract them. He is offering factory sites free and is already negotiating with some cut glass and silk manufacturers.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

No More Gravy

For years, the Susquehanna County Planning Commission kept the fees it received for inspecting and/or reviewing construction plans, infrastructure projects, subdivisions, etc., etc. The commission has its own checking account and picked up the tab at an area restaurant where the commission held monthly work sessions that were actually dinner meetings.

At the beginning of each year, the commission made a “donation” to the county, usually a check for about $10,000 although I am told it was higher than that during exceptionally good years. In 2003 the commission took in $12,500 and at the beginning of this year presented the customary “donation” check of $10,000 to the county. In 2004, the take was $13,000 but the commission voted against giving a donation to the county in 2005.

As it turns out, it was a big mistake because the sudden act of Scroogism backfired. A quick check of the law revealed that what the Planning Commission has been doing all these years just isn’t kosher. Effective January 1, the commission has been told to turn all its proceeds over to the county treasurer on a regular basis for deposit in the county’s general fund. The piggy bank being taken away from the commission means no more dinner-meetings unless the commission members want to go Dutch treat. I am told it cost the commission anywhere from $150 to $200 a dinner meeting, depending on the attendance.

It should be pointed out that the commission did have some sort of blessing by a previous administration to tap the kitty periodically for some expenses incurred by the members, such as mileage. But nowhere can it be found that the county commissioners authorize the planning commission to enjoy a dinner at county expense prior to each work session.

And No More EDD

You may remember reading here a few weeks ago that a department head is on the way out. It took a bit longer than expected but it is about to happen.

The details are kind of sketchy but the Susquehanna County Economic Development Department is on its last legs. The county expects to enter into an agreement with Bradford County aimed at promoting industrial and commercial growth for both counties.

Shutting down the department means Liz Janoski, director of the SCEDD and her associate, Keris Smith, will be out of work. However, I am told that Ms. Janoski may be offered the now vacant position as coordinator of the county recycling program and the commissioners are trying to secure a spot for Ms. Smith.

The county has advertised for a recycling coordinator and at last count there were six applicants for the position. It makes handing the job to Ms. Janoski on a silver platter difficult to accomplish even for the county commissioners without having political overtones.

By the way, Ms. Janoski was due to be paid an annual salary of $35,190 in 2005 and Bill Zick, who retired as recycling coordinator, would have been paid $28,929 had he stuck around this year. It will be interesting to see what Ms. Janoski is offered because I understand the commissioners are toying with a $20,000 starting wage for whoever is hired.

You Gotta Be Jokin’

Since I have been covering Susquehanna County government, there have been a considerable number of job descriptions altered so the individual holding the position can get a pay raise that otherwise could not be authorized.

At its last meeting, the Board of Commissioners gave the clerk-typist at the recycling center a new title, recycling secretary, so her hourly rate could be increased from $9.43 to $9.85 an hour. And this gal deserves every penny of that raise. She does a great job. And her position is not the point of this issue.

The reason I point this out is because there has been some concern about a $1,500 pay raise given to Jeff Shoemaker, chief adult probation officer, who recently took on the added responsibility of administrator of the Susquehanna County J-Net Program. My friends, I have seen many employees of this county assume far less responsibility than Jeff just accepted and get much more than $1,500 additional compensation for it.

Run properly, the J-Net Program can and will make money for the county, especially with Jeff at the helm. Before any more criticism is thrown around, might I suggest that we wait a year and find out just what the J-Net Program accomplished. Jeff Shoemaker’s department brought in over $400,000 in revenue for the county this year. Keep that figure in mind next time you think the head of such a department isn’t worth an additional $1,500 for taking on more responsibility.

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From the Desk of the D.A.

Recently, the Washington Supreme Court decided that the parents of a 14-year old child had violated her expectation of privacy when the parents eavesdropped upon the daughter’s conversation with her 17-year old boyfriend. The eavesdropping was accomplished through the use of a base of cordless telephone, which had a speaker feature which allowed the parents to hear the entire conversation. The legal system became involved because the boyfriend had “mugged” an elderly woman and stolen her purse. The parents reported what they had heard to the police, and the boyfriend was arrested for the assault. The boyfriend sought to suppress the parents’ testimony. In considering the applicable wiretap statute, the court concluded that: “[The children] subjectively intended to have a private conversation. [The defendant] manifested this intention by asking to speak with his girl friend. [The girlfriend] manifested this intent by taking the cordless telephone from her mother, going upstairs to her room, and closing the door.” Thus, the court suppressed the evidence of the statements made by the defendant to his girlfriend that were surreptitiously overheard by the girlfriend’s parents.

In response to this particular decision, a number of “talking heads” have called into question the “reasonable expectation of privacy” that a teenager has within his or her parents’ home. In my own unscientific survey, I have found that local parents are split on whether they should be permitted to eavesdrop on their children’s telephone conversations. What is the status of Pennsylvania law? Under the current wiretap statute, no person may record any telephone conversation (or any other form of communication) without the consent and knowledge of all parties to the conversation. Although a parent can easily purchase the equipment necessary to “tap” their household phones, Pennsylvania law would not allow a parent to record those conversations without the consent of not only their children, but also the other person involved in the telephone conversation. As the law stands now, if a parent were to record a child’s telephone conversation without the consent of their child and the other participant in the conversation, the parent could be charged with a violation of the wiretap act, which is a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to seven years incarceration.

Interestingly, some states have taken the affirmative step of amending their wiretap statutes so as to permit parents to record the conversations of their children. For instance, Georgia allows parents to eavesdrop and record the telephone conversation of their children, provided the parents are acting to ensure the welfare of the minor child. OCGA ß 16-11-66(d). Pennsylvania currently has no such exception to empower the parents to make recordings of telephone recordings that they deem necessary to protect the welfare of their children. In order to provide parents with such protection, the legislature would have to amend the current version of the wiretap act to include an exception similar to Georgia’s statute.

Finally, there is the question of whether you can monitor and record internet activity, such as chat rooms and other internet communications. In Commonwealth v. Proetto, the Pennsylvania Superior Court noted that “[s]ending an e-mail or chat-room communication is analogous to leaving a message on an answering machine. The sender knows that by the nature of sending the communication a record of the communication, including the substance of the communication, is made and can be downloaded, printed, saved, or, in some cases, if not deleted by the receiver, will remain on the receiver’s system.” Because of the nature of the internet communication, the Pennsylvania Superior Court determined that those using chat rooms (and other means of internet communication) expressly consent to the recording of the message. In Proetto, however, the recipient of the communication was a child, who reported the activity to her parents, and then turned the information over to the police. In other words, there was no eavesdropping by the parents of the child. Thus, Proetto does not definitively address the issue of whether a parent can surreptitiously record internet communications between their child and third parties.

In short, given the current state of Pennsylvania law, a parent is not permitted to record the telephone conversations of their children without the consent (or knowledge) of all of the parties involved in the telephone conversation. Thus, unless a parent wants to inform their child and all persons speaking with the child that the conversation is being recorded, there is little a parent can lawfully do to monitor such telephone conversations surreptitiously. Along a similar vein, the current state of the law also calls into question the ability of a parent to monitor internet communications without their child’s knowledge. Consent should not be confused with knowledge. A parent can inform a child (and others involved in the communications) that the communications will be recorded, and, if the child objects but then engages in the communication, then consent is implied by the circumstances.

What are the proper boundaries between parents and a child with respect to the child’s communications? What tools should parents have at their disposal to monitor their child’s communications? Does a child have any expectation of privacy while living under his or her parents’ roof? These are difficult questions, which the courts, like the Washington Supreme Court, will be forced to decipher unless the legislature, as in Georgia, steps in to provide clear authority allowing parents to monitor their child under appropriate circumstances.

Please submit any questions, concerns, or comments to Susquehanna County District Attorney’s Office, P.O. Box 218, Montrose, Pennsylvania 18801.

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Dear Earthtalk: I'd like to start saving more energy in my home. Do you have any tips?

Mitch Rochelle, Carson City, NV

A University of Michigan study estimates that the average American household could reduce its energy bills by 65 percent and, over the home’s lifetime, save $52,000 if it maximized energy efficiency.

One place to start is household appliances. Washers and dryers generate lots of heat, so in a warm climate they should be in sealed-off rooms so as not to exacerbate air conditioning needs. Likewise, dishwashers and ovens should be run in the morning or evening to minimize heat buildup. On older refrigerators, vacuum the coils at the back of the unit regularly to keep them clean and free of dirt and dust. When they become covered in dust their efficiency is dramatically reduced.

While repairing old appliances can improve energy efficiency somewhat, replacing them with new models that comply with the federal government’s Energy Star standards can reduce household energy costs by 20 percent. Consumers should remember that getting the right size unit installed professionally is essential to getting the most from new appliances.

Air-conditioning and heating need not take such a huge bite out of America’s energy dollar. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, if your air conditioner is more than eight years old, it’s a good candidate for replacement. If your furnace or boiler is old or simply inefficient, the best solution is to replace it with a modern high-efficiency model. And to keep heating bills to a minimum, install a programmable thermostat and schedule it to trigger heat only during the hours you are home.

Many older homes are poorly sealed and lack insulation, sending energy bills skyrocketing. Also, it is common to find gaps between duct joints, whether a home is new or old. Seal and insulate ducts that are exposed in areas such as your attic or crawlspace to improve your system’s efficiency. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, by properly sealing air leaks and adding insulation, you can improve comfort and cut your energy bills by up to 10 percent.

For a do-it-yourself assessment of your home’s potential energy efficiency, check out the Home Energy Saver website run by the U.S. Department of Energy. Special software enables users to input information about their homes, and then learn how much energy (and money) could be saved by insulating the attic or installing double-glazed windows. Indeed, with winter bearing down upon us, there’s no time like the present to save energy in your home.

CONTACTS: Natural Resources Defense Council, (212) 727-2700,; Energy Star Program, 888-STAR-YES,; Home Energy Saver Website,

Dear EarthTalk: Would oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge hurt the wildlife?

Alexander Brower, Jefferson, WI

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), which oversees all of America’s 540 wildlife refuges, Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is “among the most complete, pristine and undisturbed ecosystems on Earth.” USFWS biologists fear that opening up ANWR’s disputed coastal plain to oil extraction would be disastrous for area wildlife dependent upon an unspoiled environment.

While hundreds of bird, mammal and fish species would be impacted by oil development within ANWR, none would suffer quite as much as the caribou, which migrate 400 miles each year to the coastal plain of the Beaufort Sea to give birth. Indeed, as many as 50,000 calves are born each year right on top of where seismologists estimate the U.S. could extract as much as 10 billion barrels of oil. The caribou feed on the region’s nutritious lichens, which bloom in late spring and early summer, providing crucial sustenance for nursing calves and their mothers. Biologists fear that the establishment of oil rigs on the coastal plain could force the caribou to abandon their traditional birthing grounds, initially lowering birth rates and eventually jeopardizing the very survival of the already dwindling herd.

Polar bears could also be profoundly affected by oil drilling in ANWR. Its coastal plain has been determined to be the most important on-shore habitat for polar bears in Alaska. “Biologists fear that if oil drilling is permitted on the coastal plain, disturbance from heavy machinery could cause mothers to abandon their young cubs,” says Joel Bennett of the non-profit Defenders of Wildlife. “Because polar bears reproduce at a slow rate, these disturbances could lead to serious population declines,” he adds.

Despite claims that improved technologies will minimize the industrial “footprint” of extraction facilities within ANWR, government geologists contend that potential oil reserves may be located in many small accumulations in complex geological formations, rather than in one giant field (as was previously discovered to be the case at Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope). Consequently, development on the coastal plain--which is located more than 30 miles from the end of the nearest pipeline and more than 50 miles from the nearest gravel road and oil support facilities--could likely require a large number of small production sites spread across the landscape, connected by an infrastructure of roads, pipelines, power plants, processing facilities, loading docks, airstrips, gravel pits, utility lines and landfills.

The fragile tundra is extremely sensitive to human exposure and still exhibits scars from exploration vehicles that passed through almost 20 years ago. With 95 percent of Alaska’s North Slope already open to oil exploration and development, ANWR represents the last frontier of protected habitat in the coastal region.

CONTACTS: Arctic Protection Network,; Defenders of Wildlife “Save the Arctic Refuge” Program, (202) 682-9400,; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Information, (800) 362-4546,

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; or submit your question at:, or e-mail us at:

Dear EarthTalk: Are contact lens fluids safe for the environment and personal health?

M. Luh, Storrs, CT

According to the Contact Lens Council, approximately 34 million Americans now wear contact lenses. Most people use various saline and disinfectant solutions for their lenses from big-name companies like Bausch & Lomb and Johnson & Johnson. These products are usually packaged in squeeze bottles that, according to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, are required to have preservatives.

But many preservatives can cause irritation and discomfort to the user. For example, thimerasol, a preservative commonly used in contact lens disinfectant solutions in the past, was found to be the culprit in severe allergies. One particularly harmful by-product of thimerasol, once it degrades or metabolizes, is ethyl mercury, which researchers now believe plays a role in the development of autism and a number of health problems.

Other preservatives like benzalkonium chloride have now replaced thimerasol in contact lens solutions. However, according to the Switzerland-based Perret Opticiens, there is still the possibility of such allergic reactions as redness, itching and discharge with the new generation of preservatives being used in conventional solutions.

There are other options. Clear Conscience now makes a line of contact lens solutions that are reportedly gentler for the environment and the wearer. Unlike conventional products, the company’s saline solution is dispensed by a safe nitrogen propellant, which means it contains no preservatives. Clear Conscience also offers an FDA-approved Multi-Purpose Solution that is benzalkonium chloride- and thimerasol-free. It can be used to disinfect, clean and store hard or soft contacts. WholeFoods Markets and other large natural goods stores stock Clear Conscience products, or they can be ordered on-line at the company’s website.

Meanwhile, Alcon, one of the largest providers of traditional lens solutions, has diversified its product line to include two preservative-free products, Unisol 4 and Pliagel, both which are available on-line at as well as at other large health products retailers.

CONTACTS: Contact Lens Council, (800) 884-4CLC,; Clear Conscience, (800) 595-9592,; Perret Opticiens,; Alcon Labs, (800) 757-9195,;

Dear EarthTalk: Would removing the bald eagle from endangered species protection, as proposed by some environmental groups and the Bush administration, be considered an environmental victory?

William Young, Chappaqua, NY

Just 30 years ago, the once-abundant bald eagle – America’s national symbol – was in danger of extinction in its primary habitat across the lower 48 states. Hunting, sprawl and poisoning from the agricultural pesticide DDT had conspired against this majestic raptor, despite safeguards in place under the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940. Fewer than 500 breeding pairs remained and the outlook was grim.

But with the banning of DDT in 1972 and the passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, eagle populations began to rebound. By July 1995, the species had recovered to 5,700 pairs, and was upgraded from “endangered” to “threatened” status under the ESA. Today, biologists estimate that more than 7,600 breeding pairs inhabit the lower 48 states, and the Bush administration has proposed de-listing the species once and for all in 2005.

Conservation efforts have indeed made the eagle’s recovery possible, but nonetheless even the environmental community is split on whether or not de-listing the bird is a good idea. Some say that the eagle’s recovery has exceeded expectations and that de-listing would be the culmination and celebration of a great American conservation success story – proof that the ESA works.

“The species’ numbers have steadily increased over the past three decades, so much so that in some areas, such as the Chesapeake Bay region, there are hundreds more eagles today than there were prior to the DDT era,” says endangered species law expert Michael Bean of Environmental Defense, a non-profit group that was originally instrumental in the banning of DDT. Last spring, Environmental Defense lobbied the White House to put forth the most recent eagle de-listing proposal.

But other eagle advocates worry that key protections would no longer be in effect if de-listing were to take place. Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, says that earlier efforts by the Clinton White House to de-list the eagle stalled after federal biologists warned that contaminants in the environment and habitat loss were still preventing some eagle populations from achieving optimum reproduction rates. And budget cuts in the interim have meant that no additional eagle population monitoring has taken place. Without any new data to justify de-listing, Suckling and others consider taking endangered species protection away from the eagle at this point to be not only premature but also illegal.

Federal officials have put forth similar proposals to take the gray wolf and the grizzly bear off the threatened list as well. These great conservation success stories underscore how important the ESA has been. But as new, larger threats to wildlife – including habitat loss and global warming – loom, many are left wondering if we’re celebrating victory in the war against species loss a little too soon.

CONTACTS: Environmental Defense, (212) 505-2100,; Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 623-5252,; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program,

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; or submit your question at:, or e-mail us at:

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