AUGUSTA (AP) – With a bald eagle named Larry on hand for the celebration, Maine Gov. John Baldacci has signed legislation to remove the bird that symbolizes America from the state’s list of endangered and threatened species.

Baldacci told the crowd in Augusta’s Capitol Park that the eagle’s strength, awe and beauty are characteristics that perfectly represent America.

Tuesday’s signing comes amid a rebound in bald eagle populations in Maine and across the nation.

The federal government took the eagle off its endangered list in 2007, and the state’s bill was designed to bring Maine law into sync with federal policy.

State and federal law first recognized the bald eagle as an endangered species in Maine and 42 other states in 1978. It was reclassified as a threatened species in 1995.

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