From DNR News Releases
America’s national bird, the bald eagle, is about to become a regular visitor in homes, offices and classrooms across the state, thanks to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ nongame wildlife program and the citizens who donate to it, either directly or when filing their income taxes.
That’s because the DNR is now streaming live video of a nesting pair of bald eagles on its website.
DNR biologists believe it’s the same pair of birds that used the nest last year, but their eggs failed to hatch, probably because they were laid too early and froze. This year, the birds have laid two eggs in the last five days.
“We’re excited they came back, and grateful that they’ve waited until a little later in the season to lay their eggs,” said Lori Naumann, DNR nongame specialist. “With the thaw this week, we’re really hoping the birds will be more successful this year.”
Once pushed to the brink of extinction, the American bald eagle has made a remarkable comeback with help from endangered species laws and a ban on the pesticide DDT. While less than 300 breeding pairs could be found in Minnesota in the 1980s, there now are about 1,300 active nests – more than any other state in the U.S. except Alaska.
“We’re lucky to live in a major metropolitan area that has such awesome natural areas and outdoor recreational opportunities,” said Erica Hoaglund, DNR nongame wildlife biologist. “We’re hoping people will get excited watching this eagle family and get out to one of our many state, county or city parks to experience nature.”
In addition to live video on the DNR’s website, information on the eagles’ activities will be regularly updated on the nongame wildlife program’s Facebook page. People also can subscribe to the DNR’s Twitter feed for regular updates. If people would like regular updates to their in-box, they can sign up for eagle cam email updates.
The eagle camera was paid for by DNR’s nongame wildlife program, which is largely funded by donations, especially those made when Minnesotans file their state income taxes. Line 21 of the Minnesota income tax form, marked with a drawing of a loon, gives taxpayers the option to donate to the program, a feature often referred to as the “chickadee check-off.” The nongame wildlife program works to protect, maintain, enhance, and restore native nongame wildlife resources, helping more than 700 species of Minnesota wildlife thrive.
Moose Numbers Still Low
Aerial moose survey results for 2014 show no significant change in Minnesota’s moose population even though more animals were seen than last year.
Results of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ annual aerial moose survey place the 2014 statewide moose population estimate at 4,350. The 2013 estimate was 2,760 but due to variability in the estimates, this year’s estimate does not represent a statistically significant change.
“The higher estimate this winter likely is related to ideal survey conditions rather than any actual increase in the population,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the DNR. “This year’s heavy snows across northeastern Minnesota made it comparatively easy to spot dark-bodied moose against an unbroken background of white.”
Cornicelli said this year’s estimate is very close to the 2012 estimate of 4,230, which suggests that last year’s estimate may have under-counted the population.
“All wildlife population surveys have inherent degrees of uncertainty,” he said. “Long-term trend and population estimates are more informative and significant than annual estimates.”
That long-term trend shows Minnesota’s moose population is continuing a downward trend. Even with this year’s higher population estimate, the number of moose is about half of 2006’s estimate of 8,840.
“Mortality rates of 21 percent among adult moose and 74 percent for calves in the first year of the studies illustrate the complexity of Minnesota’s moose population problem,” Cornicelli said.
By Nick Simonson
Simonson is an outdoors journalist from Marshall, MN and serves as president of Lyon County Pheasants Forever. Each month he shares a copy of his column, Our Outdoors with the chapter. Read more from him at www.nicksimonson.com
By Johnny Doublehaul
Click Here for a Step-by-Step Tutorial