It's hard to believe that Americans almost let their national bird go extinct in the U.S., but by the end of the 1950s, bald eagle numbers had been reduced from a population of 300,000-500,000 to just 412 nesting pairs in the 48 contiguous states. The prime culprit in the birds' decline was the use of the pesticide DDT. Bald eagles were finally declared an endangered species in 1967, and the use of DDT was banned in 1972. Since then, the population has rebounded remarkably. An estimated 10,000 breeding pairs exist in the U.S. today, and the bald eagle was officially removed from the U.S. government's list of endangered species on July 12, 1995.