Eagle population in West Virginia growing

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Bald eagle populations are growing in West Virginia
Bald eagle populations are growing in West Virginia, say observers. Photo courtesy of the W.Va. Dept. of Commerce.

West Virginia’s eagle population is growing, according to a spokesman for the state’s “Eagle Brigade,” which is conducting a survey of eagles and other raptors in the southern and north-central state on Jan. 6.

Fifty bald eagles and a golden eagle were counted in January 2017, and 40 bald eagles were counted in March, according to the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources.

“The eagle population is growing in West Virginia,” says Jim Phillips, a retired Pipestem Resort State Park naturalist and one of the many eagle survey volunteers.

“And the Winter Eagle Survey is a great time to get out and see these magnificent birds.”

Wildlife officials in West Virginia attribute the population increase to the development of large bodies of clean water, such as the development of Bluestone and Stonewall Jackson lakes, and a ban on the use of the pesticide DDT.

The survey teams, which will be stationed at observation sites in Summers, Greenbrier, Raleigh, Monroe, Lewis and Taylor counties, are welcoming new participants, who will be partnered with experienced observers on their first time out.

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“Participants do not need to be experts in eagle watching or surveys,” Julie McQuade, a naturalist at Pipestem said.

“We partner new folks with longtime volunteers and assign survey sites in advance so that everyone can contribute.”

The survey will start at 10 a.m. and end at 2 p.m. Afterward, observers in southern West Virginia will meet in Hinton to review their observation counts and reports.

A second survey will be conducted March 3.

To register to volunteer as an observer, email or call Julie McQuade at Julie.A.McQuade@wv.gov or 304-466-1800 or contact Wendy or Ron Perrone at Three Rivers Avian Center at 304-466-4683 or trac@tracwv.org.

Volunteers should dress appropriately for the weather, bring binoculars, if possible, and pack snacks or water.

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