Eagle Nature Foundation, Ltd.
300 East Hickory Street, Apple River, IL 61001
Phone: 815-594-2306 Fax: 815-594-2305 Web Site: eaglenature.com
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tax Exempt No. 36-4015400
|For Immediate Release||February 18, 2016|
2016 Midwinter Bald Eagle Count Released
Apple River, IL) Terrence N. Ingram, the compiler for the 56th ENF Midwinter Bald Eagle Count, has just released the results of the 2016 count. This year the hundreds of volunteers from Minnesota to Tennessee in roughly a two hour period counted only 863 bald eagles with 219 of them being immatures. This is down from the 1343 bald eagles with 319 immatures counted last year on the same weekend. Last year’s total was about 50% of the previous year’s total, and this year’s total was about 35% lower than the 50% loss we had last year. The bald eagle population on the Mississippi River appears to be truly crashing, with only 0 to 3 bald eagles present at many dams, where those same dams in the past have had from 60 to 600 eagles each.
The only bright spot in the count results was that the percentage of immatures was 32.0 %, which is 3.1 percentage points greater than last year’s total of 28.9%. The only year in the past 10 years when this percentage was higher than 32 % was in 2011 when it was 34.4%, and the last year before that was in 2002 when this percentage was 32.4%. The average of the last 5 years is only 25% and the average for the last 10 years is only 24.0%.
In 1965 the total number of bald eagles recorded on this count was 868 birds, just 5 more than were seen this year, with 191 immatures and a 24.8 % immature ratio. If we considered the same areas that were covered in 1965 we would only have 260 birds with 49 immatures. In other words, the bald eagle population now is less than one half of what it was in 1965. In 1976, before the bald eagle was declared endangered, the number of eagles counted on this count was 1088 birds with 296 immatures and a 28.9% immature ratio.
Over the 56 years the average number of bald eagles seen during the count has been 1603 birds with 400 immatures. The average immature/adult ratio for the past 56 years is 27.3%. This ratio peaked at 38.9% in the year 2000, when the bald eagle was reproducing well. Ever since then this ratio has been on a gradual decline. The reason is unclear. It could be West Nile Virus affecting the young, or some chemical such as glyphosate, working its way through the food chain, just like DDT was doing in the 1960’s, or it could be starvation of the young before they leave the nest, or before they learn how to hunt and fish on their own. It has been determined in the past that this ratio has to be near or above 30% for a healthy population to sustain itself.
For more information contact: Terrence N. Ingram, Exec. Director, Eagle Nature Foundation, 300 East Hickory St., Apple River, IL 61001 Phone 815-594-2306