Monday, February 26, 2007

Where Eagles Soar

The Post says the US Fish and Wildlife Service is preparing to remove the bald eagle from the threatened and endangered list, which would mean protection for the bird would be left to a 1940s law that says they should not be disturbed. Problem is: What does disturbed mean exactly? The government is debating that right now....Turns out the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center over by Fort Meade played a key role in the revival, according to this mention in an article by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

"Gradually, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assembled the largest colony of breeding bald eagles in captivity at its Patuxent Wildlife Research Center near Laurel, Maryland, in a major effort to return healthy eagles to the wild (the center is now run by the National Biological Survey).

Patuxent's scientists enhanced the species' breeding potential by removing the bald eagle's first clutch of eggs and incubating them artificially. The bald eagles would usually then lay a second clutch, which the birds were allowed to incubate themselves. In all, 124 bald eagles were hatched at Patuxent.

These captive-hatched bald eagles were an important source for restocking wild populations in certain areas of the country and helped to reestablish a broader distribution. Patuxent's program came to an end in 1988, as bald eagles began to reproduce more successfully in the wild, and the center turned its efforts toward other more critically endangered species."

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