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Bald eagles making comeback in St. Charles

Jonathan Menard -   Dec 15, 2011

A bald eagle was photographed feeding in the grass on Willlowdale Boulevard on Thursday.
Ann Taylor
A bald eagle was photographed feeding in the grass on Willlowdale Boulevard on Thursday.

Bald eagles have become a relatively common sight in St. Charles Parish and residents should expect to see more of them in the future, according to Amity Bass, the natural heritage manager of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

In 1963, there were only 400 nesting pairs of the national bird in the United States. In the last flyover survey performed by Wildlife and Fisheries in 2008, there were around 500 nesting pairs of bald eagles in Louisiana alone, Bass said.

In 2007, bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list.

Bass said the decline of the birds has been attributed to the widespread use of pesticide DDT, which was introduced after World War II and banned in 1972. The chemical caused female eagles to lay eggs with weak shells that cracked when the mother tried to incubate them.

Illegal hunting and the destruction of the eaglesí natural habitat also contributed to their near extinction.

"There were no laws to protect them from being poached by people who thought they would eat the animals that they wanted to eat too," Bass said. "Getting laws in place to protect them really allowed the eagles to thrive."

The Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 to save threatened animals and plants. The bald eagle was one of the first species protected under the act, which prevented killing the eagles or taking their eggs.

The eagles have been sighted across the parish recently, mainly in the Luling area.

"People should expect to see more and more of them," Bass said.

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