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Energy & Environment

Oneida,Vilas Top Counties For Nesting Bald Eagles

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Oneida and Vilas counties continue to lead the way as bald eagle number continue to grow.

Surveys done last year found a total of 1,695 bald eagle nests occupied by breeding adults, an increase of 105 nests from 2017. That's a 6.6 percent increase and more than 16 times as many nests found in the first detailed surveys in 1974.

Bald eagles were listed then as state and federally endangered species and only 108 nests were documented.

Laura Jaskiewicz, is a DNR research scientist who coordinates the statewide aerial survey effort. She says a number of factors might account for the increase including more people looking and more birds finding habitat. 

But the prime nest spots in the state appear to be in the Northwoods..

"..Up in Oneida and Vilas counties. Those are the two biggest counties for eagles. There's lots of lakes and eagles love nesting near lakes...."

Bald eagles prefer to nest in tall trees along water, and these two counties have some of the highest concentrations of freshwater lakes in the world. As in past years, Vilas County with 172 nests and Oneida County with 154 nests had the highest totals. She says it doesn't seem like eagle nesting has topped out.

She says eagles are finding places to nest. Eagle populations had plummeted due to man-made factors, largely chemicals that were affecting reproduction...

"...They have gotten off the Endangered Species List. They're still protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. They're no longer on Endangered Species (list) and they seem to be doing very well in Wisconsin..."

A recent documented nesting site in Walworth county near Milwaukee shows the birds population recovery and the bird's ability to adapt to the environment, though some eagles have fallen victim to eating lead left by hunters and anglers in the wild.

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