GAMBIER — Seeing bald eagles in Ohio, let alone in Knox County, was a rarity 30 years ago. In 1979 only four nesting pairs of bald eagles lived in Ohio. But visitors to Saturday’s bald eagle program at the Brown Family Environmental Center in Gambier learned the sightings are becoming quite common. The country’s national bird is no longer an endangered species.
The program was presented by the Knox County Park District and the BFEC and guided by Heather Doherty, program manager. The special speakers included eagle enthusiasts former Metro Parks chief Naturalist Gary Moore, and volunteers Brad Perkins and John Minard. Perkins and Minard volunteer their time to observe and document bald eagle activity.
“I see this program as a celebration of success of the once almost obliterated bald eagle,” stated Moore, explaining that the only state the bald eagle was not once listed as endangered in was Alaska. Thanks to the 1967 Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the bald eagle population in Ohio is growing. There are now over 300 bald eagles in Ohio.
They are still protected, however, and possessing any part of a bald eagle, its nest, or eggs is a prosecutable offense. It is also illegal to disturb their nesting sites causing them to abandon a nest or interrupt their breeding. Moore credited the US Fish and Wildlife service for diligent efforts in monitoring the birds’ activities.
Moore explained that the forested areas of Ohio have increased up to 35 percent and that has also encouraged the return of the bald eagles. Bald eagles nest most commonly in sycamore or cottonwood trees because of the trees’ strength. A bald eagle nest can weigh as much as two tons and an adult eagle weighs approximately 12 pounds and has a wing span of approximately seven feet.