2013-03-27 / Community

Bald Eagle Comeback at Institute

Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, a subsidiary of Clarkson University, honors Earth Day and kicks off an exciting 2013 event season with a talk on the recovery of the nearly-extinct bald eagle with nationally respected wildlife biologist Peter Nye and environmental journalist Andrew Revkin.

The event will take place on Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m. at Beacon Institute’s Center for Environmental Innovation and Education (CEIE) at 199 Dennings Avenue in Beacon, and is free and open to the public. Advance online registration is requested. Information about this and the full 2013 event schedule can be found at www.bire.org/events.

In the talk titled “Bald Eagles: Rising from the Brink of Extinction,” Nye will relay his experience as leader of the New York State bald eagle restoration program which brought the population from a single pair in 1976 to well over two hundred fledglings by 2010; Andrew Revkin will interview Nye for the talk. Nye’s efforts in rare species research, management and conservation as head the New York State Endangered Species Unit of the Department of Environmental Conservation were instrumental in the dramatic turnaround.

New York’s bald eagle restoration program was established in 1976 by the DEC in response to the sudden collapse of the eagle population caused by the chemical DDT. Motivated by one remaining pair in the state, Nye and his team developed two primary techniques which proved successful beyond the most optimistic expectations for the bird’s survival: the release in New York State of juvenile bald eagles from other states, called “hacking,” and the manipulation of the state’s only remaining native pair to foster young.

Aside from DDT, the challenges to bald eagle survival in New York State have much to do with the necessity for unfettered, non-disturbed areas with good food supplies and tidal wetlands. “By the late 1800s and early 1900s the whole landscape had changed from the Adirondacks on down the (Hudson) river; much of the timber had been removed for buildings, tree masts and agriculture,” says Nye. “There was a huge landscapelevel change, a very significant factor in the beginning decline of bald eagles way, way before DDT ever came on the scene.”

Event attendees will have the added opportunity to experience the early spring splendor of Denning’s Point, located in Hudson Highlands State Park. Beacon Institute’s Center for Environmental Innovation and Education (CEIE), a visitor center for the park, is also an educational facility that hosts many events highlighting the natural and historical treasures of Denning’s Point. With walking trails open to the public from April through November, the park is also a winter home to bald eagles and closes seasonally to protect their habitat.

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