The Audubon Society has reported that the oldest tagged Bald Eagle in America has died at the age of 38. The bird has overseen the dramatic recovery for his species in the United States, and is a testament to some of the successes of the environmental movements of the 1970s.
Eagle 629-03142 was struck by a car near Henrietta, New York. Born in 1977, it was taken from its nest in Minnesota and was brought up in New York’s Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. The move was part of a larger effort to restore Bald Eagle populations in the state, which had seen its numbers fall to just a single breeding pair in the 1970s.
As his species recovered, biologists stopped tracking 03142’s every move, but he likely stayed at that nest for the rest of his life, since he died only about 25 miles away. He was probably there in 1989, when the NYSDEC eagle recovery program ended, and in 2007, when Bald Eagles were taken off the federal endangered species list. By that point, their population had grown more than tenfold since their initial listing. At last official count, in 2006, there were at least 9,789 breeding pairs of Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states, and thousands more in Alaska.
629-03142’s death is tragic (and a good reminder for drivers to be cautious while driving), but its life highlights an important span of time, as well as demonstrates the success of recovery programs to restore the bird to sustainable numbers.
Read the rest over on the Audubon Society’s website here.
Photo credit: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation