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Published: Tuesday, 7/15/2008

Bald eagles increase for 21st consecutive year

Reflecting national trends, Ohio's bald eagle population grew in record numbers this year and expanded in territory, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

State biologists tallied a record 184 nests in the state this year, the 21st consecutive year that the state's breeding bald eagle population has increased.

Of those nests, 119 were known to be successful in producing young eagles. A determination of success could not be made at 16 other nests, and the remainder failed to produce young. Current reports from wildlife biologists and volunteer observers estimate a record total of 222 young eagles hatched in nests in 43 Ohio counties.

At least 203 of these eaglets have already fledged, that is flown on their own. These young birds, in all brown plumage and lacking the distinctive white head and tail of mature adults, are approximately adult size, however. The prior record eaglet production was 205 from 110 nests, among 150 nests in all, in 2006.

"The success bald eagles have had in Ohio in recent years had allowed the division to downgrade the status of the bald eagle from endangered to threatened," said Dave Graham, state wildlife chief. He cited the April approval from the Ohio Wildlife Council to put the bald eagle, osprey, and peregrine falcon on the state's threatened list, which represents a lower level of concern.

Last year, Ohio marked 164 nests, with 115 of those nests producing 194 eaglets. This year, 21 new nests have been identified in 18 counties.

In the second year since being removed from the federal endangered species list, bald eagles have made a dramatic comeback. Since 1979, when only four bald eagle pairs were found in Ohio, the wildlife division has helped re-establish Ohio's eagle population through habitat development and protection; fostering of young eagles; and extensive observation of eagle nesting behavior.

Most eagle nests in Ohio are located along the shores of Lake Erie, but some are well inland, including nests in Delaware, Hancock, Mercer and Wyandot counties. Counties with new nests in 2008 were Ashland (1), Belmont (1), Columbiana (1), Erie (2), Geauga (1), Highland (1), Lorain (1), Lucas (1), Mahoning (1), Ottawa (2), Pickaway (1), Richland (1), Ross (1), Sandusky (1), Trumbull (1), Tuscarawas (1), Wood (1), and Wyandot (2). A majority of the nests occur on private land.

An average eagle nest ranges from 3 to 5 feet in width and 3 to 6 feet in depth. The nests are usually built high in a tall tree. Both male and female eagles share in the incubation and feeding of the young, which begin to leave the nest at about 12 weeks.

Littered fishing line is a roadside bomb to wildlife, as Toledoan David Vincent Black can attest.

On a recent trip to the West Branch, Mich., area, about 225 miles north of Toledo, Black participated in the rescue of a common loon that was hopelessly entangled in a wad of monofilament line.

"It had fishing line around its beak, as well as its tongue and its wing," Black said. "It took 10 of us to do it," he said about the rescue, the second such in which he has been involved.

Afterward the bird moved off about 500 yards, avoiding efforts to contain it. But it appeared to be calm and recovered, Black said. "It was a positive experience."

It won't be long before people will be "bugging" Russell Lamp about wasp and hornet nests, and that will be just fine with him.

Lamp collects stinging insects for use in vaccine manufacturing by the pharmaceutical industry, and early summer he offers free removal of nests of bald-faced hornets and in-ground nests of yellow jackets.

"Last year we were the largest collector in the world," he noted, adding, "there are probably fewer than 100 people in the world who do what we do."

Most in-ground yellow jacket nests mature, and are ready for removal, in September. But Lamp said that when residents start seeing the gray hornet nests in trees, they can make note to contact him. He will remove such nests when they grow to around the size of a basketball.

He works on hornet nests into early September. The collector said that some hornet nests have been reported already in the Cleveland area, which he also covers, but they still are too small to remove.

He can be reached at 419-836-3710.

Michigan deer hunters can begin applying today for antlerless deer licenses. Applications can be purchased at all license dealers and online at michigan.gov/dnr.

Hunters may apply for a single license, for either private or public land, or for a single deer management unit. Application deadline is Aug. 15. Leftover licenses will go on sale Sept. 17. Private-land antlerless licenses for southern lower Michigan will be sold without an application beginning Sept. 8.

For 2008, hunters may apply for up to five antlerless deer licenses, though no more than two can be for the Upper Peninsula and/or northern Lower Peninsula unless they are for units in the seven-county special zone where deer have tested positive for bovine tuberculosis.

The telephone number of a private landowner is required when purchasing a private-land antlerless license. There is no acreage minimum for 2008 for private-land licenses.



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