Maine Officials Wrapping Up Bald Eagle Survey

May 14, 2018

An adult bald eagle.
Credit Paul Cyr / Crown of Maine Photography

Maine wildlife officials say the recovery of the bald eagle is a true conservation success story. In the 1970's there were fewer than 40 nesting pairs in Maine, predominately Down East, but five years ago there were more than 600 nesting pairs of eagles scattered across the state.

"Back then it was extremely rare to see a bald eagle. Now if you're in certain areas of the state it can be a daily occurrence," says Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife spokesman Mark Latti.

Latti says biologists with the department are working to update population numbers, something currently done every five years. For about the past 8 weeks, biologists and Maine Warden Service pilots have been checking more than 1,800 nesting sites across Maine.

Latti says generations of bald eagles will use the same nesting territory over the decades, even enlarging a nest that's used a lot. He says use of pesticides like DDT really had a negative impact on the bald eagle population.

"Basically the eggs weren't viable or the shells were very soft, but it was very difficult, aside from Down East, to get pairs to have success nesting," he says.

Latti says eagles Down East benefited by being able to eat sea-run fish that weren't affected by DDT spraying, unlike eagles living away from the coast.

Biologists hope to conclude aerial survey flights by the end of the month.