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Bald eagles soaring across NYS in record numbers

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

New York State officials say that bald eagles are thriving in historic numbers across the state.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is reporting the highest ever number of nesting pairs, 323, since the agency began a restoration effort in 1976. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos says early indications from aerial surveys show that around 73 percent of bald eagle territories are occupied this year.

Bald eagles, once found throughout the state, were nearly eliminated by the late 1960s, mainly due to the effects of DDT. Officials say although New York’s bald eagle restoration program ended in 1989, the state’s eagle population has continued to grow.

The state is looking for help from the public in assessing the status of the bald eagles. Officials say a network of volunteers provide reports on the status of nests.

One challenge we heard about recently from Great Lakes Today is an increase in the lead related deaths of bald eagles. The birds can be poisoned by eating the remains of animals shot with lead ammunition. That is a situation that New York environmental officials are closely monitoring.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's Director of News and Public Affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.
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