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The bald eagles are here to stay

OUTDOORS WITH JAKE

Mason Hoeffner, 8, of Harding, shot his first buck while hunting with his dad on the last day of rifle season.

Seeing a bald eagle isn’t as common as seeing a sparrow or pigeon. They aren’t perched on every rock ledge or telephone pole and yet it is time to celebrate their comeback. We have more eagles setting up permanent residence in Pennsylvania now than we have had in the last 50 years. It is a comeback of enormous proportion.

In order to fully comprehend the reason for celebrating the eagle victory, you should know a little about the battle. The bald eagle was first listed on the endangered species list in 1967. The major factor in the dramatic population drop was the use of DDT, a pesticide known to weaken egg shells and as a result reproduction was almost impossible. DDT was banned in 1972 and soon after the eagles started their slow recovery.

In 1983, the Pennsylvania Game Commission began a seven-year bald eagle restoration program. Members of the commission were sent to Saskatchewan in order to obtain eaglets (baby eagles} from wilderness nests. The Richard King Mellon Foundation of Pittsburgh and the federal Endangered Species Fund paid for most of this portion of the project. The trip was successful and 88 bald eaglets from Canada made their way to their new home, Pennsylvania. They were methodically released from sites at Dauphin County and Pike County in the Shohola Falls area. The resurgence of eagles in Pennsylvania is directly related to this program, which was also carried out in other states in the Northeast.

Eagle sightings are now not uncommon. People in the Wyoming Valley often report the sighting of bald eagles soaring along freely over the Susquehanna River. It was thrilling to watch as more and more pairs of eagles set up permanent residency here in our state. In fact, the Pennsylvania Game Commission now believes that there are more than 190 active eagles’ nests in the Commonwealth. The Game Commission currently classifies the bald eagle as a threatened species in Pennsylvania. They were removed from the federal endangered species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2007.

Here’s where you come in. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is seeking public input on a ten-year bald eagle management plan. You can take a look at on the agency’s website ( www.pgc.state.pa.us) by clicking on the “Draft Eagle Management Plan” icon under the large photo in the center of the homepage.Public comments on the plan will be accepted until March 3, via the website or by mail to: Eagle Management Plan, Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.

“We are seeking public comment on this draft eagle management plan to ensure the resulting final management plan considers the thoughts and concerns of Pennsylvanians about this species,” said Calvin W. DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director. “As written, the plan is science-based, progressive and promotes responsible management of bald eagles. We’re interested in hearing from Pennsylvanians who would like to offer comments, and to see if we’ve missed something or if they share our management vision for the future.”

If accepted, this eagle management plan will establish goals through 2019. The mission of this plan is to increase and maintain bald eagle populations in suitable habitat that contributes to sustaining its population throughout the Commonwealth for the foreseeable future. It also interested in providing recreational viewing opportunities for the citizens of Pennsylvania.

The actual success of their recovery will be decided by the way their nesting habits and their success rates. This could lead to yet another reclassification of the bald eagles here in Pa.If the Game Commission removes the bald eagle from the Pennsylvania Threatened Species Listing, it still we be protected by state and federal law and managed as a state species of special concern by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Protections and management of eagles will continue under the National Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and other federal and state laws. Now is the time to look at the proposal and chime in. After all, it appears that the bald eagles are here to stay.

Wild Turkey Federation event

The Red Rock Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is again preparing for their annual Hunting Heritage Banquet and Auction. This year’s event will once again be held at the Genetti Best Western, East Market Street in Wilkes Barre. Mark your calendars now and get your ticket. The fun and excitement will be take place on February 12, 2011. The doors will open at 5:00 pm with dinner being served at 6:30.

Prices for The Red Rock Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Hunting Heritage Banquet and Auction are as follows: Single person ticket...$60.00, Couple Ticket...$90.00, Sponsor Ticket.... $285.00 and Sponsor Couple Ticket...$315.00. The price includes dinner and a one year membership to the NWTF. Couple tickets are 2 dinners and one membership. Early Bird ticket prices are as follows: Early Bird Tickets MUST be purchased on or before January 21, 2011. This is perhaps the best deal of them all. Pay $130.00 and receive $400.00 worth of tickets which includes 20 sheets containing 80 general Sportsman raffle tickets and 20 bonus tickets, 1 NWTF folding knife and 1 NWTF cap (or an extra sheet of tickets). You also have the option to purchase $180.00 worth of tickets for just $60.00 which includes 9 sheets containing 36 general sportsman’s tickets and 9 bonus tickets.

Join us for a fun night, meet new friends and help support our Hunting Heritage. If you have any questions or would like information on tickets you may contactChastity King @ 472-1190, or Christine Lamoreaux @ 696-2406.

Outdoor Life

Be sure to tune into Pennsylvania Outdoor Life tonight at 6:30 on WNEP-TV. We say good-bye to a retiring naturalist who you all know from watching the show and we’ll make sure you’re ready for the ice fishing season. Have a great day!

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