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Bald Eagles on the Rise in Pennsylvania

by on August 01, 2013 6:40 AM

Pennsylvania is expected to exceed the 250 mark in active bald eagles nests this year, according to a recent report from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of the bald eagle restoration in Pennsylvania, which helped save the bald eagle population in the state.

When the eagle restoration first started in 1983, only three bald eagle nests still existed in the state. The restoration commission began transporting young eagles from Canada to release in Pennsylvania to help save the population. This new report seems to indicate that the efforts have paid off.

Populations in Centre County are increasing, too. According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the population keeps multiplying every year.

“Within 20 miles of State College, there are at least four bald eagle nests,” said Tony Ross, a wildlife management supervisor in the North central Regional office. “And that’s only known nests. We’re finding so many new nests now so it’s clear that we don’t know about all of them.”

In 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the bald eagle from the endangered species list. It is still considered a “threatened” species in Pennsylvania, however, and the game commission is typically hush about the location of known bald eagle nesting areas.

“We can’t give out locations, even if the public wants to see bald eagles in their natural habitat with the best intentions,” Ross said. “Some people exploit them, unfortunately. We try to keep people a half mile to a mile away from an eagle nest.”

Ross said that the eagles live an average of around 30 years, with two or three eagles per nest.

There is, however, one place we know for sure bald eagles inhabit. Shaver’s Creek, located 12 miles south of State College in Petersburg, has two resident bald eagles.

Both eagles are permanently injured, with one coming from Canada and the other from Virginia. People can come and view them for free during business hours at Shaver’s Creek.

“Bald Eagles are not only important to natural history, they’re also culturally important to our country,” said Doug Steigerwalt, a program director at Shaver’s Creek. “They’re our national symbol. People tend to have a fascination with top-of-the-food chain predators. They’re a pretty special bird.”

Steigerwalt said the best bet for locals to see a bald eagle in its natural habitat is to find a nesting pair, the closest probably being at Bald Eagle State Park in Howard, Pa.

“Throughout the nesting season, folks at Bald Eagle State Park often have a spotting scope on the nest,” Steigerwalt said. “You can often times see them during the migration season.”



Kevin Horne is the Managing Editor of Onward State and frequent contributor to StateCollege.com. He is also a Penn State senior, majoring in journalism and political science.
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