[/av_textblock] [av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=” custom_class=”] Pigeon Forge, TN – June 26, 2007 — With the Bald Eagle scheduled to lose its Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection and related federal funding before June 29th, the American Eagle Foundation wants to inform concerned citizens and conservationists that their national symbol still needs help.
Al Cecere, founder and president of the American Eagle Foundation, is making himself available for interviews and appearances through June 29th in anticipation of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s proposed and upcoming “delisting” of the bald eagle.
The Tennessee-based conservation group led by Cecere has a clearly defined vision to continue safeguarding America’s national bird for future generations, which includes creating an “American Eagle Fund” to care for this national treasure forever.
Cecere is confident the Bald Eagle still faces daunting post-delisting challenges – from loss of crucial nesting and foraging habitat to the threat of various contaminants, viruses and diseases. “The bald eagle will soon come off the ESA’s threatened species list, but that doesn’t mean it has fully recovered and won’t continue an up-hill fight for survival,” Cecere explains. “In an era of government budget cutting, it will cost millions of dollars to monitor and protect eagle nests and adjacent ecosystems on private lands nationally for the remainder of this decade and beyond.”
Cecere, who has championed the eagle cause for 23 years, points out that the Bald & Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 and Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 will provide some significant protection for eagles after the delisting. But, he says, neither law has strict provisions for buffering and securing nesting habitat located on private property, like the ESA presently does. Cecere adds, “Recovering this special species is only half the battle. Now, we must fully secure its future livelihood. The majestic Bald Eagle is a precious national treasure that has symbolized our country’s democratic ideals and freedoms for over 230 years. As a lasting legacy for America, we must keep it flying strong and free for generations to come.”
The following sample questions and answers from Al Cecere, founder and president of the American Eagle Foundation, can be used in publications and on the Web without restrictions.
Q: What led you to create the American Eagle Foundation?
“In the early 80’s, I got my calling to get involved with helping eagles. At that time, I was living in Nashville and working in the entertainment production business. I saw an Associated Press photograph in the Tennessean Newspaper in 1983 that depicted two dozen eagle carcasses laying side-by-side. They had been shot by poachers in the Dakotas. That photo had a powerful impact on me. It hit me in the gut and heart pretty hard. I asked myself “Why are people shooting these beautiful birds?” I thought there were wildlife agencies out there taking care of all these special animals.”
Q: So, what did you do? How did you respond to that experience?
“I got on the phone right away and called the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. I asked to speak to the person in Tennessee that knew the most about eagles. And they put me right through to a man named Bob Hatcher—the non-game coordinator for the state. In that first conversation, Bob told me Bald Eagles were an endangered species, and there was very little money available for state and federal agencies to keep their eagle programs going. He said Tennessee was struggling to keep its own eagle recovery efforts going and could use more funding. They had already been releasing young eagles into the wild for a couple years to help repopulate the state, which only had few resident nesting pairs then. So I began pursuing country music entertainers and corporations to get involved. Sometime in 1984, I realized there wasn’t a national non-governmental organization set-up to specifically protect the national bird. So, the good Lord gave me a clear vision to start one and to immediately begin running it from my kitchen table.”
Q: What is the purpose of the American Eagle Foundation?
“The American Eagle Foundation was established as a citizen’s effort to restore and protect our national bird and its habitat. Of course, when we first began, the eagle was on the brink of extinction in the lower 48 states. It was an endangered species. So, our whole effort has largely been to educate the public about eagles and our environment and to encourage everyone to conserve the natural wonders God has created and entrusted to our care. When I travel coast to coast with Challenger, our trained eagle ambassador that can no longer survive in the wild, we reach people from all walks of life—young and old, rich and poor, and all colors. And they’re all touched in a special way by the awesome beauty and intensity of the eagle when they get an up-close look at it. Whether they know it or not, they’re actually seeing a glimpse of the Creator’s own handiwork and majesty. We want them to realize we’re here on Earth to be good stewards and to care for the gifts God has given us, not neglect its importance and trash it for selfish reasons”
To schedule an interview with Al Cecere and/or a TV appearance with Al and the Bald Eagle Challenger, contact the American Eagle Foundation (AEF) at 865-429-0157, 865-256-0372 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the AEF, write to PO Box 333, Pigeon Forge, TN 37868, or visit their website, www.eagles.org. For recent press releases concerning our eagle work, check out our “American Eagle News” link.
To obtain an abundance of info about Bald Eagles and their proposed delisting from ESA protection, visit the AEF’s private “Media Eagle Info” webpage. Go to:
Password (will work if either typed in all caps or lower case): MediaEagleInfo
About The AEF: The American Eagle Foundation (AEF) is a not-for-profit charitable organization established in 1985, dedicated to the care, recovery and protection of the bald eagle and its habitat. Headquartered at the Dollywood entertainment theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, the Federal and State licensed AEF conducts both environmental and eagle-focused education and recovery programs. It operates the world’s largest Bald Eagle exhibit and breeding facility. Since the mid 1990s, the AEF has appeared with its trained, free-flying bald eagle Challenger from coast-to-coast, including the White House and various sporting events such as the World Series, Olympics and NFL Pro-Bowl. The conservation group has appeared with non-releasable eagles and other birds of prey on national TV shows including Good Morning America, Larry King Live, David Letterman, NBC Today, Regis & Kelly, Fox & Friends, CBS This Morning, CNN, Dateline NBC, Jeff Corwin Experience, Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures and Animal Planet. The AEF has also received a wide range of positive national press, from publications such as Audubon Magazine, USA Today, New York Times and Washington Post.