Bald eagle numbers soar to new heights in Wisconsin

The Department of Natural Resources reported an annual increase in active nests.

February 7, 2020, 10:59 AM

The bald eagle population in Wisconsin has made a huge comeback in the last 45 years.

According to a new survey released by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the state has shown a dramatic increase in the total number of active bald eagle nests since 1974.

PHOTO: A field nest from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2019 survey of bald eagle nests.
A field nest from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2019 survey of bald eagle nests.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

The aerial nesting survey of 2019 observed 1,684 occupied bald eagle nests in 71 of 72 counties.

Jim Woodford, the section chief of field operations for Wisonsin DNR, told ABC News that the data published in the maps "were collected through annual low-altitude aerial flights completed by Wisconsin DNR pilots and biologists."

"These surveys were completed during the bald eagle’s egg incubation stage to determine nest occupancy and the chick rearing stage to determine nest success," he explained. "The 2019 surveys marked our 47th consecutive year in completing these flights."

"The success of bald eagles in Wisconsin is a comeback story fueled by the national ban on the pesticide DDT, added protections under state and federal endangered species laws, river cleanups under the Clean Water Act and public support of nest monitoring and protection efforts," the Facebook post said.

PHOTO: A bald eagle sits in a nest in this stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

"Part of that public support includes donations to the Endangered Resources Fund via Wisconsin state income tax forms, purchases of an Endangered Resources license plate and citizen reports of bald eagle nests or nest-building activity."

The bald eagle nest occupancy survey was flown in March and April to locate occupied nests. Additional ground observations were provided by landowners, birders, volunteers, and raptor banders; this information is used to supplement and check aerial data.

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