Bald eagles see record-high numbers after the extinction threat
The bald eagle’s comeback is often considered to be one of the greatest conservation stories in North American history, bouncing back from under the eagle 500 pairs in 1963.
JACKSON, Georgia. – Old animals biologist Jim Ozier is released and then signs a small boat on Jackson Lake, an hour south of Atlanta. With a pair of binoculars hanging from his neck, Ozier the engine start to cruise to a 5-year-old bald eagle nest, towering just on the edge of the Georgia Power-owned body of water.
Ozier routine, to monitor bald eagle populations has been consistent – keeping a sharp eye during the search for our nation’s symbol through the air and the water. It is the experience for Ozier that has changed drastically.
“I remember getting out of high school and I wondered if I ever see a bald eagle,” Ozier recalled.
There was only one known successful nest in the Peach State during the 1970s, according to the Georgian Ministry of Natural Resources.
Ozier said that he never can predict, “go[ing] from there to now [where] there is probably no place in Georgia that is not 20 to 30 km of a bald eagle nest.”
The bald eagle, the nation, the symbol, ever on the brink of extinction. But it is making a huge comeback thanks to the efforts across the country to save them. Experts call it one of the greatest conservation stories in North American history, making a comeback of less than 500 eagle pairings in the 1960s.
Biologists ride on the edge of Jackson Lake to check on a five-year-old eagle nest.
The national count has since risen up to literally more than 30 times that of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated 16,048 pairs in 2009.
It is difficult to get accurate national data on bald eagle populations in recent years, because many states significantly reduced their surveying efforts after the bird was removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007.
An ‘inspiring story’
Also on the boat are in the near of Atlanta was the co-wildlife biologist Bob Sargent, who recently succeeded Ozier to oversee surveying activities.
Sargent told Fox News the DNR documented a Georgia state record of 218 active nesting areas in 2017.
“This species, our national symbol since 1782, was on the brink of extinction, and see it back in the way it is, it is an inspiring story all the way around,” Sargent said.
Many states in the country produced groundbreaking has in the past few years – such as Florida, with 1,568 active nesting territories in 2016; and Wisconsin, with 1,590 in 2017 and Arizona with 69 in 2018.
“The bald eagle on the growth of the population in Arizona and across the country is a testament to the success of wildlife conservation efforts,” said Kenneth Jacobson with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Ozier and Sargent agreed, pointing to the country, such as the ban on DDT (a harmful pesticide) in 1972, the Endangered Species Act and increased public awareness.
No nest has gotten more attention in Georgia than the one sitting next to Berry College athletic department.
Dr. Renee Carleton, a professor in biology, said several cameras offer a “people who do not normally have a connection with nature” with a close-up.
Carleton added that the live feed attracts viewers from all over the world, giving well-deserved attention to the beautiful species.
Sargent told Fox News that he often gets phone calls from giddy residents in awe after catching their first glimpse of a bald eagle.
“If they are in the air, it seems as if she is floating for the half of the afternoon, effortlessly,” Sargent said.
He called it inspiring, patriotic, and a view that never ends in pomp and circumstance.
After three consecutive years of 200-plus included active nesting territories, Georgia DNR decided to reduce the emissions of bald eagle surveying efforts in half.
A bald eagle is located along the Kenai River in Alaska.
Georgia’s highest-populated county hit a new record with a score of 27 nests in 2018, so it is very possible for the Peach State would have seen in a similar state-wide increase should the DNR continue to fully-fledged supervision.
In spite of the supervision on the reduction, which freed up money for the conservation of other species, including the peregrine falcon, Sargent promised our country, the symbol will always remain a top priority in the state.
He acknowledged the numerous threats that terrorize the apex predator today, including illegal hunting, cars and a new neurological disease called avian vacuolar myelinopathy.
Today, bald eagles continue to be protected under the Migratory bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, that prohibit anyone without a permit from the take of the bird’s parts, their nests and eggs.
Wednesday commemorated 236 years with the bald eagle shown on the official seal of the United States.
Emilie Ikeda is a multimedia reporter based in Atlanta.