The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) “Conservation Plan for Bald Eagles in New York State” is available for public review and comment. The document provides guidelines for the future management of America’s national bird (and national animal) in the State, where it prefers to live in mature forests near large bodies of water.
Bald eagles were once common in America, but their numbers began a dramatic decline as a result of hunting, logging, habitat loss, and pollution. The publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in 1962, and the modern environmental movement it helped launch, led to a new public awareness of the threats to wildlife from over-development and chemical poisoning. Eventually, that awareness and activism helped save bald eagles from extinction.
Initially however, state and federal agencies took little action, and by 1970 there was just a single unproductive bald eagle nest in New York State. The following year the bird was listed as endangered by the State of New York. They were one of the first animals listed under the federal Endangered Species Act signed by Richard Nixon in 1973.
The New York State Bald Eagle Restoration Project began in 1976 in an attempt to reestablish a breeding population through hacking (hand rearing to independence). Over a 13-year period, 198 nestling bald eagles were collected (most from Alaska) and released in New York. The project ended in 1989 when ten breeding pairs were established. According to DEC, in 2010 there were 173 breeding pairs in New York which fledged 244 young.
A copy of the Draft Conservation Plan for Bald Eagles in New York State may be downloaded here.
DEC will accept comments on the draft plan until Friday, April 10, 2015. Comments or questions should be addressed by email to [email protected] (note “bald eagle” in the subject line), or by phone, contact Dan Rosenblatt at (518) 402-8884. Comments can also be mailed to DEC’s Wildlife Diversity Unit, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754.
Illustrations: Above, an adult bald eagle at Alaska’s Kodiak Island in July 2010 (photo courtesy Wikimedia user Xanthis).); and below, a 1960s DDT powder container, one of the many unregulated chemicals which led to a general decline in raptors in America in the 20th century (photo courtesy Wikimedia user