Environmental officials have announced that the oldest banded bald eagle in the United States has died after being hit by a vehicle at western New York road on June 2.
According to reports, members of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) were called in to recover a dead bald eagle on a roadside in Henrietta, Monroe County.
The animal experts checked the eagle's leg number and found that it was already 38 years old. This meant that the deceased bird was the oldest banded bald eagle to be tagged in the country based on the longevity records of the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Bird Banding Laboratory.
Marc Gerstman, executive deputy commissioner of the New York DEC, explained that the presence of the record eagle is proof of the restoration and conservation efforts made under the Bald Eagle Restoration Program in New York.
He said that it is worth noting that the animal had lived a long life and thrived in its environment in New York, and that the DEC continues its work to conserve the bald eagle's habitat ensure that the air and water are clean for the sake of birds and other animals.
Gerstman added that the environmental agency participates in research programs that promote the propagation of the bald eagles in the state of New York.
The USGS banding records show that the dead bald eagle originally came from Lake Puposky in Minnesota and was brought to New York as part of the state's Bald Eagle Restoration Program.
In the second year of the program, the bald eagle became one of only five nestling birds to be raised and released at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.
In August 1977, when the eagle was a few months old, it was banded at the Seneca Falls, Seneca County. The bird was given the band number 03142 before it was released at the refuge.
By the time the bald eagle had reached its breeding age, it had moved to the Hemlock Lake, which is part of the territory now called the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest. It was here where the eagle fathered many eaglets that were fledged from the area for several more years.
Retired wildlife expert Peter Nye, who led the Bald Eagle Restoration Program in New York, said that when they banded the bald eagle numbered 03142, they did not expect how special it would become to their program.
He said that based on the recovery of the bald eagle at the site, it would likely mean that the bird was the resident male eagle in the area and that it had been breeding there for the last 34 years.
While its life was cut short by the motor vehicle, the longevity of the bird's life is the recognized as the longest life-span of a bald eagle in the wild according to Nye.
After the banning on the use of the pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in the 1970s and the prohibitions placed on the killing or taking of bald eagles as stated in the Endangered Species Act of 1973, New York has launched the Bald Eagle Restoration Project in order to reestablish the breeding population of eagles in the state.
Photo: Andrea Westmoreland | Flickr