Natural Resources

Bald eagle making comeback (08/12/29)

NB 1872

Dec. 29, 2008

FREDERICTON (CNB) - The largest bird of prey in Canada is making a comeback in New Brunswick, Natural Resources Minister Wally Stiles said today.

(Multimedia)

"Information collected in the spring shows the bald eagle population to be an estimated 110 to 145 breeding pairs," said Stiles. "That's double the number of known breeding pairs 10 years ago and a huge jump from the 12 breeding pairs back in 1980."

The bald eagle is listed as regionally endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

In April, the Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, conducted an aerial survey to estimate the number of breeding pairs of bald eagles in New Brunswick.

The survey used a technique to be implemented country-wide in the United States next spring. The department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff developed the sample design and layout, using geographical information system software.

Over six days in April, a pilot biologist from Maine and two department staff flew over predetermined areas to look for adult nesting eagles. Information was recorded using GPS technology and hand-held computers.

Afterwards, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff and the department analyzed the data and reported on the findings. Stiles said the department is developing an update.

"Information gathered during the survey will be critical to the development of this report and allow us to make informed decisions about the continued recovery of the species in our province," he said.

There are two bald eagle populations in New Brunswick - one present year-round and another that migrates to the southeastern United States in the winter.

Most of the breeding population is found in the southwest of the province, where nesting occurs near freshwater lakes, rivers, estuaries and marine islands.

Adult bald eagles have a distinctive white plumage on their head and tail. They have wing span of more than two metres. They build the largest nests of any bird species in North America.

European settlement and, later, the impact of widespread use of pesticides, particularly DDT, dramatically reduced the bald eagle population throughout North America.

The species has slowly recovered through legislation to protect the eagle and its habitat, and the banning of DDT and other pesticides in the 1970s.

08/12/29

MEDIA CONTACT: Chrystiane Mallaley, communications, Department of Natural Resources, 506-453-2614.

08/12/29