Monday, July 7, 2008

Bald Eagles Thriving Throughout Pennsylvania

The bald eagle continues to supplant its recent - and remarkable - nesting successes with new records, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. And from all indications, this raptor isn't done making headlines.

"The bald eagle's ascension from its perilous past is an inspiration to all who care about environmental reform and wild Pennsylvania," explained Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe. "These birds are living proof that responsible natural resource management and conservation make Pennsylvania a better place to live and ensure wildlife will be around for future generations to enjoy."

"It's fitting that news about the continuing triumphs of bald eagles have graced our headlines over the Fourth of July for the past several years. As our nation's symbol, their presence is essential in America's outdoors. They immediately add a touch of class and true wilderness to any area they inhabit, whether it's on the outskirts of Philadelphia or a remote stretch of the Lake Erie shoreline."

This spring, bald eagles are known to be nesting in at least 47 of the state's 67 counties. Their tally of nests is expected to exceed 140 nests. In June 2007, biologists estimated Pennsylvania had 120 known nests in 42 counties. The final count of those nests turned out to be 132, and they produced more than 150 eaglets.

As recently as 1983, there were only three eagle nests remaining in Pennsylvania. That year, the Game Commission began a seven-year bald eagle reintroduction program in which the agency sent employees to Saskatchewan to obtain eaglets from wilderness nests. The Richard King Mellon Foundation of Pittsburgh and the federal Endangered Species Fund provided financial assistance for this effort. In all, 88 Canadian bald eagles were released from sites located at Dauphin County's Haldeman Island and Pike County's Shohola Falls.

"What's happening in Pennsylvania is also happening in many other states," noted Doug Gross, Game Commission ornithologist. "Bald eagles are thriving in Ohio and New York, and, of course, in Maryland, where more than 400 pairs have been documented. Some states with extensive big-water resources, such as Florida, Minnesota and Wisconsin, have more than a 1,000 pairs each.