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Conserving the Nature of America
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
Northern States Bald Eagle Recovery Plan
The Executive Summary of the Recovery Plan is provided below.
The Northern States Bald Eagle Recovery Area includes the following 24 States: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Utah, Wisconsin.
The Northern States Bald Eagle Recovery Plan describes actions believed necessary to assure the survival and recovery of bald eagles in the 24 States encompassed by the Plan. The primary recovery objective is to reestablish self-sustaining populations of bald eagles throughout the Northern States Region (hereafter Region). An initial, tentative goal is to have 1,200 occupied breeding areas distributed over a minimum of 16 states (for definition see Appendix D) within the Region by the year 2000, with average annual productivity of at least 1.0 young per occupied nest.
The most important problems believed to have reduced eagle populations in the Region have been: 1) loss of suitable habitat. 2) mortality from shooting, trauma, poisoning, diseases, electrocution, and other causes, and 3) reduced reproduction caused by environmental contaminants. Incomplete and inconsistently-reported information plus inadequate communication and coordination among agencies and individuals working with eagles have contributed to problems in our understanding of the species' population dynamics, status, and requirements.
The specific recovery tasks described in this Plan fall into general categories:
1. Determine current population and habitat status.
2. Determine minimum population and habitat needed to achieve recovery.
3. Protect, enhance, and increase bald eagle populations and habitats.
4. Establish and implement a coordination system for information and communication.
All of the tasks in the Plan are concerned with and important to the recovery of the species. However, some tasks clearly are more important than others. Those most important are described in the following four paragraphs.
Annual surveys. Nesting
surveys are required for information on locations and absolute numbers
of occupied breeding areas. Those numbers are needed to monitor changes
in population status and to determine whether the primary recovery objective
is being met. Winter surveys are needed to identify important wintering
areas and establish priorities for site-specific management.
Habitat Assessment. Essential habitats need to be identified and monitored so that their boundaries can be defined clearly and information obtained for site-specific management.
Site-specific management Plans. These are needed for essential habitats, including a) breeding areas, b) important winter night roosts, c) winter areas of consistent and concentrated daytime use, and d) other significant areas. Each of these sites is important yet unique in size, configuration, and needs for protection and management; hence, each requires an individual management plan. Such plans are already commonplace and well established for many breeding areas.
Improved communication and coordination. Better coordination, standardization, and centralization of statistical information about bald eagle populations and management is needed. (Information and maps about specific locations of individual eagle nests and winter night roosts, however, should not be centralized, for the welfare and protection of the birds. Specific location information should remain with state and federal agencies or organizations responsible for particular geographic areas.) The magnitude of the recovery effort is such that a full time coordinator is needed for the Northern States Region, or perhaps for the whole country. Coordination among the five regional bald eagle recovery teams on several issues would result in the acquisition of data in a standard format, with a minimum of redundancy, hence lower cost. Each state and federal agency with a large role in the recovery effort is strongly urged to assign or hire at least one person with appropriate expertise to consolidate information and to coordinate implementation of the Plan. The formation of state-level or inter-state working groups, composed of the agency coordinators and interested non-agency researchers, also is strongly recommended. The working groups serve as a forum for establishing priorities and management within a state or among neighboring states.
Other important, although less critical, research and management tasks that will aid recovery are described briefly in the remainder of this summary.
Reestablishment of self-sustaining breeding populations in many states is expected to occur by the natural expansion of existing populations, provided suitable habitats are maintained. However, where populations have been extirpated or severely reduced, restoration probably will require transplanting wild- or captive-produced young to suitable locations. The ultimate success of efforts to restore breeding populations, whether by natural or artificial means, depends largely on survivorship. Providing improved habitat conditions, particularly during the winter period, probably is the most important means of maximizing survivorship.
Other steps include the development
and implementation of programs to reduce deaths from shooting, accidental
trapping, electrocution, poisoning, or exposure to various environmental
contaminants. Rehabilitation of sick or injured eagles also is important,
primarily because of the public education associated with such programs.
It is imperative that surveys, research, and management planning be carried out by experienced, qualified personnel. This is particularly important for all work involving the eagles themselves, such as when birds are captured or handled or when nests and winter night roosts are visited.