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Possible June 29 Delisting of Bald Eagle Follows Record Year in Alabama
June 27, 2007
If the bald eagle is delisted as a threatened species on June 29, it happens in part because of years of careful monitoring of the birds, such as in Alabama. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) has watched the birds set records in the state for their numbers, as state wildlife biologists counted 77 bald eagle nests in Alabama in 2006 – a 21 percent increase over 2005 (61 nests) and the highest since its Alabama’s Bald Eagle Restoration Project began.
Since the early 1990s, a statewide aerial survey of bald eagle nests has also been conducted. Because of the record nest numbers, ADCNR biologists determined that every nest in the state need not be monitored this year, and instead a selected sample of nests are being surveyed.
“The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is proud to have played a part in the comeback of the bald eagle,” said Commissioner Barnett Lawley. “Due to restoration efforts by the Department’s Nongame Wildlife Program, populations have increased and bald eagles now nest in the state. When we began the restoration project in 1984, bald eagles had not nested in Alabama since 1949.”
“The increase in the number of bald eagle nests is remarkable and demonstrates that our efforts to bring back bald eagles in Alabama are working. We should be able to detect any problem with our nesting population, should it occur, by monitoring an appropriate sample of nests,” says ADCNR Wildlife Biologist Keith Hudson, who helps monitor the nests. “The progress that has been made has exceeded recovery goals.”
The Alabama Bald Eagle Restoration Project is Making a Difference
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says that at one time there were more than 1 million bald eagles in the United States. The population dwindled in the 1950s and 1960s primarily due to the devastating effects of the pesticide DDT, which was banned in 1972. In the early and middle part of the 1900s, Alabama lost its nesting population of bald eagles due to habitat loss and the impact of DDT. Prior to restoration efforts, the last known successful bald eagle nest in Alabama was in the 1950s.
In 1984, the ADCNR Non-game Wildlife Program initiated a project to restore nesting bald eagles to the state. Over a seven-year period (1985-1991), 91 juvenile bald eagles were released from six different locations throughout the state in an attempt to imprint Alabama nesting territories on these young eagles. In 1991, two successful eagle nests appeared in Henry and Wilcox counties, and, since then, eagle nest numbers have continued to increase each year.
Interesting Bald Eagle Facts
· About half of the world’s 70,000 bald eagles live in Alaska.
· Bald eagles have a wing span of seven to eight feet and can live up to 30 years.
· The trademark white head and white tail do not develop until about five years of age.
· Bald eagles can see prey from as far away as a mile and a half.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, StateLands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.