Pennsylvania Game Commission Gives Bald Eagle Pair A Little Help With Home Improvement Project
HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — While most people try to avoid home improvement projects in the winter, a pair of bald eagles got some much needed help recently from a team of Pennsylvania Game Commission land managers with a very important and timely renovation project.
A sycamore tree on Haldeman Island has been used by at least three mated pairs as a nesting site since 1989. The island is just upriver of the confluence of the Susquehanna and Juniata rivers north of Harrisburg, and the tree stands just across a pond from one of three hacking towers the Game Commission used at two locations in its bald eagle recovery program. About two weeks ago, one of the limbs supporting the nest collapsed under the weight of the nest.
On Friday, Steve Bernardi, Game Commission Land Management Group Supervisor for Juniata, Mifflin, Perry and Snyder counties, was joined by Terry Willow, Game Lands Maintenance Worker with the River Island Food and Cover Corps Crew, and Scott Bills, Land Management Group Supervisor for Dauphin and Lebanon counties, to construct a platform to encourage the bald eagle pair to reuse this nest site.
The three men measured and cut lumber, used hammers and nails, as well as screws and drills, to secure the lumber in place, and then placed branches and sticks on the platform to encourage the bald eagles – who were watching the activity while perched in nearby trees – to begin rebuilding a nest.
“A pair built a nest in this tree in 1989, and had their first young in 1990,” Bernardi said. “A storm blew the original nest out of the tree in 1995. Scott Bills, who was the Wildlife Conservation Officer in Dauphin County at that time, worked with a Food and Cover Corps crew and PPL to erect the first platform similar to what we put in place on Friday.
“Adult bald eagles are preparing to nest, and hopefully they will come back and reuse this platform just like they did back in 1995.”
Haldeman Island played a key role in the recovery of bald eagles in Pennsylvania. In the 1980s, it was one of two locations used for reintroduction of eagles brought by the Game Commission from Canada, in the early years of restoration of eagles to our state. About 40 eaglets were released at the Haldeman Island tower overlooking the ponds on the north side of the island by 1989.
When the reintroduced birds successfully raised young at a nest on Haldeman in 1990, the whole state had only seven nesting pairs. And, there has been an active eagle nest in that spot every year since, except 2004, when the birds took a year off.
“While we don’t know if the same pair have been active that whole time, the same old sycamore tree has been used during this period, and that nest has produced more than 40 young over this period,” said Dan Brauning, Game Commission Wildlife Diversity Division chief. “Since the site is well-protected, on a Game Commission island with limited access, this site has particular value to us.
“Continued support for this nest will help sustain this historic location in the recovery of bald eagles in Pennsylvania.”
In 1983, the Game Commission began a seven-year bald eagle restoration program in which the agency sent employees to Saskatchewan to obtain eaglets from wilderness nests. The Richard King Mellon Foundation of Pittsburgh and the federal Endangered Species Fund provided financial assistance for this effort. In all, 88 bald eaglets from Canada were released from sites at Dauphin County’s Haldeman Island and Pike County’s Shohola Falls. The resurgence of eagles in Pennsylvania is directly related to this program, which also was carried out in other states in the Northeast.
When the restoration program began in 1983, only three Crawford County nests remained in the state. By 2006, the agency announced that the state had surpassed the 100 bald eagle nest mark. Just five years later, in 2011, the number of known bald eagle nests had doubled to 203 spread out over 50 counties.
Residents aware of a bald eagle nest – which are among the largest nests of all birds – in their area should consider reporting it to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The easiest way to contact the agency is through: email@example.com. Use the words “Eagle Nest Information” in the subject field.
The Game Commission continues to further the public’s understanding of bald eagles. In 2010, a comprehensive “Bald Eagle” threatened species account and “Bald Eagle Nest Etiquette” guide were added to the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and can be accessed by putting your cursor on “Wildlife” in the banner menu bar, then clicking on “Endangered Species.”
In 2011, the agency launched its series of “Eagle-watching in Pennsylvania” guides, that will help direct those interested in viewing bald eagles in the wild on where to go, how to get there, what to expect and other wildlife viewing opportunities available at each site. Currently posted are eagle-watching guides for Erie National Wildlife Refuge, Crawford County; Conneaut Marsh, Geneva Marsh, State Game Land 213, Crawford County; Raystown Lake, Huntingdon County; State Game Land 180, Shohola Lake, Pike County; Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, Lebanon and Lancaster counties; Bald Eagle State Park, Centre County; Glendale Lake, Price Gallitzin State Park, Cambria County; John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Philadelphia and Delaware counties; Lower Susquehanna River, Lancaster and York counties; Moraine State Park, Butler County; Pine Creek Valley, Lycoming and Tioga counties; Promised Land State Park, Pike County; Pymatuning Reservoir, Crawford County; and the Upper Delaware River in Pike, Wayne and Monroe counties.
The Game Commission currently classifies the bald eagle as a threatened species in Pennsylvania. They were removed from the federal endangered species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2007, because delisting goals had been achieved.
To Connect with Wildlife, visit the Game Commission at the following:
NOTE: Photographs to accompany this news release are available from the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) by clicking on “Resources,” then choosing “News Releases” and then selecting “Release #014-12.”
Note to Editors: If you would like to receive Game Commission news releases via e-mail, please send a note with your name, address, telephone number and the name of the organization you represent to: PGCNews@pa.gov
SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission