It’s been 40 years since bald eagles were considered endangered and nearly extinct. But in North Carolina and across the nation, these symbolic birds are once again being seen more often than ever; they have made a great recovery in the improved environment indicating that conservation efforts had indeed paid off.
A 73 years old retired navy of 4 years and IBM retiree of 30 years, Ronnie Floyd said he had never seen any of the bald eagles in the wild of Wake Forest- until he was walking with his daughter on a trail near Falls Lake dam; they were amazed to catch sight of it on a tree .
For a person to spot a bald eagle in North America is much unexpected.
In 1983, there were no bald eagles found nesting in North Carolina until state biologists freed the first young bald eagles near Lake Mattamuskeet in Hyde County. This brought a pair to nest near the lake a year later, which was recorded as the first in the state.
Currently, there are at least 192 bald eagle nesting areas, including current and past nesting areas, according to David Allen, the supervisor of the wildlife diversity program for the state Wildlife Resources Commission. Though there may even be more that Allen may have thought and seen, maybe a hundred more, he says the efforts in counting these nesting areas have declined since it had become widespread.
It was during the time when the bird was chosen for the national emblem in 1782 that the number of bald eagles dropped. The birds were then hunted, the trees where they nested were cut down, and rivers where they get their food were polluted.
The most crucial time of their existence was in the mid-20th century when the deadly pesticide known as DDT reached the fish that the eagles ate, which caused reproductive abnormalities like the thinning of the egg shells that made them easily break in the nests. Usage of the said DDT pesticides was banned in the U.S. and six years later, bald eagles were among the list of endangered species in 43 states.
They were then provided with protection such as breeding programs. Other ways were also used to help these birds survive in the wild, all made possible by government and private agencies. One of these programs was the release at Lake Mattamuskeet.