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Action timeline

October 6, 2004 – The Center for Biological Diversity and the Maricopa Audubon Society petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the desert nesting bald eagle as an endangered “distinct population segment.”

August 30, 2006 – The Service denied the Center’s 2004 petition, reversing its own, long-held policy to recognize the desert nesting bald eagle as a separate population.

January 5, 2007 – The Center and partner filed a legal complaint to require the Service to perform a full status review for the desert nesting bald eagle. It requested that the court issue an injunction preventing the Service from removing Endangered Species Act protection for desert nesting bald eagles.

March 5, 2008 – A federal judge reversed the Service’s denial of our 2004 petition, ruling that the agency’s 2006 negative finding had violated the Endangered Species Act and had been arrived at arbitrarily and capriciously.

May 1, 2008 – Protection for the desert nesting bald eagle was officially reinstated, with the Fish and Wildlife Service ordered to complete a review of its denial of our 2004 petition within nine months, by December.

August 28, 2008 – The Center and its American Indian allies filed a court request to extend the deadline for this reevaluation to allow for better establishment of the eagle’s historical presence in support of listing. The request was granted.

February 24, 2010 – The Fish and Wildlife Service denied Endangered Species Act protections to the desert nesting bald eagle.

March 23, 2010 – Agency documents revealed that the Fish and Wildlife Service had ignored the opinions of its own experts when denying protections to the desert nesting bald eagle.

October 1, 2010 – A federal judge granted the Service’s request to remove the desert nesting bald eagle from the endangered species list unless and until the Center for successfully challenged the agency’s February 2010 decision.

October 5, 2010 – The Center and Maricopa Audubon Society filed a lawsuit to reinstate Endangered Species Act protection for desert nesting bald eagles.

December 1, 2011 – A U.S. District Court Judge issued a summary judgment declaring that the Service’s finding that Arizona's desert nesting bald eagles were not a "distinct population segment" was "procedurally flawed" and an "abuse of discretion,” meaning the agency would have to revisit the decision.

October 31, 2012 – The Center and Maricopa Audubon Society returned to U.S. District Court in Phoenix to file another lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to provide Endangered Species Act protection for the Southwest’s desert nesting bald eagles.

Photo by Tom Gatz, USFWS