Occasionally, raccoons and great horned owls pose a threat to bald eagles in the nest. However, because of their large size and strong capacity for predation, bald eagles are not regular prey for any species.
Although they are seldom preyed upon in the wild, bald eagles have historically been threatened by human activities. For example, eagles are at the top of their food chain, so they are highly vulnerable to toxic chemicals in the environment; each step up a food chain tends to concentrate toxins in prey species. Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, a poisonous pesticide commonly used in the United States beginning in the 1940s, almost drove the bald eagle to extinction. In 1963, the bald eagle population was reduced to 487 nesting pairs. Thankfully, however, DDT was banned in the United States in 1972, and by 2007, there were an estimated 9,789 nesting pairs in the contiguous United States.