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Outdoor Files: Bald Eagle Viewing

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Good morning. From now into early March, bald eagle viewing is typically at its best around many of our reservoirs. Go to the Game and Parks website OutdoorNebraska.org. Type bald eagles in the search box for a great information page on the birds.

Our national symbol was once threatened with extinction. Contaminants including a pesticide called DDT entered the food chain, weakened eagle egg shells and caused low reproduction. With such pesticides banned, the eagles have made a great recovery. They were listed as federally endangered in 1978 but removed from that status in 2007.

In Nebraska, the first modern nesting occurred in 1991 near Valley in Douglas County. Active nest numbers in Nebraska have increased each year since. Up to 54 in 2007 when the bird was federally delisted. In 2016, 161 nests were documented.

What about 2017? Another record has been set with known active nests at 209. With a breeding population that is increasingly secure, biologists will be able to reduce their time commitment in nest monitoring. New survey methodology is being developed for the future.

As we get closer to the warmer waters of March and certainly April, boats and personal water craft are going to be dotting our lakes. It’s a good time to remind you to become boater education certified. You need boater education if you were born after December 31st, 1985. Boat safety record keeping started in 1965. We have had only one fatality free year since then, no boating deaths in 2002. In 2017, there were 30 accidents. Sadly there were 4 fatalities last year. Investigations determined all the deaths could have been avoided had the individuals been wearing life jackets. Go online to OutdoorNebraska.org and open the Education tab to learn more about boater ed and upcoming classes. That list will be growing as we get toward March.

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