America’s oldest bald eagle will no more wing its way above the state of New York. The 38 year old bald eagle, which accounted much to the population restoration in New York, was found dead on the roadside after being hit by a vehicle.
Authorities found the eagle dead earlier this month in New York. Eagle No. 03142, as it was tagged, was captured as a nestling back in 1977 from Puposky Lake near Bemidji, along with three other bald eagle chicks. The eagles were later transported to New York as a part of the population restoration program of Bald Eagles in the city.
Back in 1981, the eagle was released at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge after reaching the breeding age. For all the following years, the bird remained as the resident male of the Hemlock Lake territory, an area which was the abode of the then-last breeding pair of bald eagles.
Carrol Henderson of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has been quoted as saying that the longevity of the eagle to be incredible. “I would never guess they would last that long”, said Henderson who was also part of the team that captured the nestling from Minnesota.
The average life-span of a bald eagle is considered to be around 20, and anything above that gets tagged as being old. The oldest bald-eagle before this had the life-span of 33 years. Although with the dead eagle considered to be the oldest, many believe some of the untagged eagles to be aged more than 38 years.
Currently, the bald eagles enjoy a healthy status in terms of its population, which was not the case during the mid 1900s. Population of breeding pairs in the US during 1960 was considered to be less than 500, with a factor accounting to its depletion being DDT consumption.
Year 1972 witnessed the ban of DDT in America, following which several states joined hands for the restoration programs. During the ten year span between 1977 and 1987, Minnesota – a state richly populated with bald eagles – transferred bald eagle chicks to five states including New York.
A total of eight eagles were transported to New York during this period, among which Eagle No. 03142 was one among the first batch of eagles to cross the state boundaries.
By 2007, the species got removed from the list of threatened and endangered species by US Fish & Wildlife department.