The Hidden Danger Of Bald Eagles You Never Knew About

Their bright white heads are emblazoned on our coins, flags, insignias, seals, and, of course, the obverse side of the one-dollar bill. For more than two centuries, the bald eagle has represented the lofty ideals the United States claims to stand for, such as freedom, justice, patriotism, bravery, and other noble-sounding words that get tossed out the window when it comes time to collect taxes from corporations.

However, one of the Founding Fathers was not a fan of the decision to make the bald eagle the national bird. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, prolific inventor and pithy quip coiner Benjamin Franklin was adamantly opposed to the idea of the bald eagle symbolizing our national psyche. "I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country," he wrote a friend, "he is a bird of bad moral character; like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy." But despite his antagonism, the bald eagle it was, and now the emblematic bird is a protected species.

Conservation efforts in recent years have helped bald eagle populations rebound from their dwindling numbers caused by factors like hunting, loss of habitat, and pesticides like DDT. Smithsonian magazine reports that their numbers have increased fourfold since 2009. However, now that they're back, they're causing trouble for people, and possibly winning converts to Benjamin Franklin's negative opinion of them.

Bald eagles are terrorizing the North American pet population

They may be majestic, but now that they're back from the brink of extinction, bald eagles are actually becoming somewhat of a nuisance. According to the Wall Street Journal, the raptors have been attacking people's cats, dogs, and other small pets, and the problem is growing. "One day I watched an eagle drag a Canadian goose back and forth across rocks for hours," said a resident of British Columbia, Canada, who had to explain the bloody ordeal to her five-year-old daughter.

Such attacks are especially a problem in the United States' neighbor to the north. In 2017, a couple in New Brunswick had to fight a bald eagle off their dog with a shovel to get it to let go. "He would've flown away with my dog and I wasn't going to let that happen," rescuer Sonia Doucet-Daigle told the CBC. The Daily Mail reports that the problem has gotten so bad in Alaska that dog owners have taken to outfitting their four-legged friends in spiked body armor in order to protect them from hungry bald eagles.

This tactic of swooping in and taking what it wants by force actually makes the bald eagle a perfect representation of America. It's much more Manifest Destiny than Ben Franklin's choice: "The turkey is a much more respectable bird and withal a true, original native of America."