State’s bald eagle breeding population at new record high

NEW YORK (WIVB) – New York State has hit a new record in the bald eagle breeding population.

A press release from the state DEC issued Monday stated that there are currently an estimated 323 breeding pairs of bald eagles in the state, the highest number since the agency began bald eagle restoration efforts in 1976.

Early indications from 2017 aerial studies show that about 73 percent of bald eagle territories are occupied this year, DEC commissioner Basil Seggos said.

New York State has been a leader in the restoration and recovery of the bald eagle in the northeastern United States, and this news confirms that our rivers, lakes, and forests are capable of supporting our nation’s symbol for generations to come,” Seggos said. 

Bald eagles, once found throughout the state, were nearly eliminated by the late 1960s, primarily due to the effects of DDT on nesting success and habitat loss along the shorelines of New York’s lakes and rivers. In 1970, the state hosted a single unproductive bald eagle nest on Hemlock Lake in Livingston County. To reestablish a small breeding population in New York State, DEC started a “hacking” program in 1976, which involves hand rearing and releasing older nestlings in the absence of parent birds. New York was able to obtain nestlings from healthy populations of bald eagles in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and Alaska.

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