Sunday, January 21, 2001

Bald eagles in Ohio reach record numbers

The Associated Press

        OAK HARBOR, Ohio — A recent survey of bald eagles in Ohio shows record numbers of the nation's symbol are wintering in the state, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

        Division of Wildlife officials counted 204 bald eagles during the state's mid-winter survey that ended this week. Last year's two-week survey recorded 195 bald eagles.

        The survey counted a record 127 adult eagles this year, com pared to last year's record of 108 eagles. But they counted only 77 eagles under 5 years old, down from last year's count of 87.

        Wildlife biologists believe December's harsh weather drove young eagles farther south than in previous years. “The slightly lower number of immature eagles in the state is no surprise, and we expect these birds to return to areas where they fledged when a major thaw occurs,” said Mark Shieldcastle, wildlife biologist with the Division of Wildlife. “Eagles of breeding age usually remain in the state year-round.”

        The survey is conducted by state wildlife officials each January as part of a nationwide tally to determine the wintering bald populations in North America. The survey includes a standardized aerial survey and observations from the ground by field personnel and a team of volunteers.

        Last year, a record 63 bald eagle pairs nested in the state and raised a record 88 eaglets.

        Observers found eagles in a re cord 31 counties during this year's survey. The highest numbers of eagles were reported in counties along western Lake Erie: Erie (26), Ottawa (24); and Lucas (18). Nearby Sandusky and Seneca counties each had 17 sightings.

        Only six bald eagles were observed statewide during the first winter survey conducted in 1979, the year the Division began the state's bald eagle restoration program. Eagle numbers gradually increased after a 1972 ban on pesticides and with increased protection.


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