Bald Eagle Population Triples in Southern Illinois
CRAB ORCHARD -- Our national symbol is making a big comeback. Local wildlife officials say the bald eagle population continues to grow. People are spotting the majestic birds all over southern Illinois.
If you take a drive in the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge this winter, you'll catch turkeys, gulls and of course deer. But it's the bald eagles that have everybody talking.
"I have people that get so excited that they just call in here and they say, 'we saw an eagle over here. Did you guys know that there's eagles here?' So it's great," says park ranger Veronica Kelly.
Kelly says numerous people have spotted the majestic creatures in many towns across the region. One of the reasons is because of the colder temperatures this winter.
"There's a few nests outside the Marion area. And since a bald eagle's favorite food is fish, anywhere that there's a body of water fish may live in, there's a chance to have a bald eagle nest in the area," says Kelly.
The bird was put on the endangered species list in the 1970's because of a pesticide weakening its eggs. Once that pesticide was outlawed, the population grew from just more than 400 to 10,000 nationwide by 2007.
"It's definitely a great success story of everybody working together towards a similar goal," says Kelly.
Kelly says a recent survey at the refuge counted 47 bald eagles. That's more than triple the 13 spotted in 2011. The refuge offers tours every year to help educate the public about the creature.
"One person tells the next person and then they tell somebody else. It just spreads a better appreciation out there and in turn it helps the bald eagles," says Kelly.
Eagle tours at the refuge are set for this Saturday and Sunday. And then again the following weekend. They're held every year the last two weekends in January. Click here to register.
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