Georgia Wild E-Newsletter
Georgia part of program to bolster eagle estimates
Most states, including Georgia, have been aerially monitoring their nesting bald eagles for the past two to three decades, work that has documented an amazing population recovery.
The effort involves returning to known territories each nesting season to check the status of each territory, as well as investigate promising reports of new nesting activity and search for nests in good habitat along the way. This collective data set was the evidence needed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support decisions to down-list, then de-list, the species from protection under the Endangered Species Act.
However, some unknown number of nests remain undetected within the many square miles of suitable nesting habitat that are not covered by this method. Although eagles are still protected by other federal and state laws, the Fish and Wildlife Service has implemented a post-delisting monitoring program to more accurately determine the actual nationwide population and enable detection of significant changes in that number. This effort requires additional searches of suitable habitat within random blocks in order to get an idea about the proportion of actual nests that are being detected through standard monitoring techniques.
This nesting season, Georgia was assigned five blocks, each a 10-kilometer square, in the coastal zone where our eagle nesting density is greatest. DNR observers teamed with a Fish and Wildlife Service biologist/pilot to conduct searches by plane of these blocks on Feb. 24 and 25. One new nest was discovered in Camden County.
Biologists will be checking all known Georgia nests this month, including the newly discovered one, to determine productivity.
-- Jim Ozier