(AP) — It’s a good time to be a bald eagle in Indiana.
After decades of population decline, the regal bird was recently removed from the state’s list of endangered and special concern species “due to evidence of successful recovery.”
Habitat loss and industries such as hat-making decimated eagle populations and, by 1897, there were none in Indiana. No eagles were known to have nested here for nearly a century – 1900 to 1988.
The state Department of Natural Resources reintroduced 73 eaglets in the 1980s as part of Indiana’s first endangered species restoration project, and “the first successful nesting occurred in 1991,” according to a news release. Biologists now estimate there are about 300 nesting pairs spread across 84 of Indiana’s 92 counties.
Chick production rose 11% from 2019 to this year, DNR officials have said.
“The recovery of the bald eagle is one of the greatest conservation success stories in Indiana,” the news release says. “This project and ongoing research would not be possible without donations to the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund, the main funding source of all nongame and endangered species research and management.”
Nationally, the bald eagle population has risen from 417 nesting pairs in 1967 to about 9,700 nesting pairs today in the lower 48 states, according to conservation group Defenders of Wildlife.
The birds remain protected by other laws, despite their removal from the state list.
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