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Ecologists ask for public's help in reporting occupied bald eagle nests in southeastern Wisconsin

Published by Central Office April 10, 2018

Contact(s): Sharon Fandel, DNR southern district ecologist, 608-275-3207

MADISON - State ecologists conducting aerial surveys for occupied bald eagle nests this spring are asking for the public's help in locating nests in southeastern Wisconsin.

Bald eagles are on their nests in southern Wisconsin, including this one along the Lower Wisconsin Riverway in the Spring Green Area, and DNR aerial surveys for occupied nests are underway.  - Photo credit: Michael Balfanz
Bald eagles are on their nests in southern Wisconsin, including this one along the Lower Wisconsin Riverway in the Spring Green Area, and DNR aerial surveys for occupied nests are underway. Photo credit: Michael Balfanz

The discovery last year of a bald eagle nest in Kenosha County leaves Milwaukee and Walworth counties as the only remaining counties with no confirmed active bald eagle nests, though conservation biologists believe it is only a matter of time before the nation's symbol sets up housekeeping there too.

"We've been able to add a number of 'new' bald eagle territories in southeastern Wisconsin over the past couple years, thanks in part to crowd-sourcing information from people calling in their observations as well as the ongoing efforts of the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas," says Sharon Fandel, southeastern district ecologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Fandel already has completed aerial surveys this spring with DNR pilots to look for occupied bald eagle nests in southeastern Wisconsin and has confirmed seven new nesting locations. About half of them came from citizen reports and the other half resulted from honing in on areas with clusters of reported eagle observations from WBBA and other birding reports.

"Now we're hoping more people will let us know about possible occupied bald eagle nests to check in southeastern Wisconsin, particularly in Milwaukee and Walworth counties," says Fandel.

Aerial surveys are underway across the state now to check known eagle nests to see if they are actively being used by breeding adult eagles. Survey data are used both internally and externally to protect these nest sites when various activities are being planned across the state.

If you observe an active bald eagle nest, with adults incubating eggs or exhibiting other breeding behaviors, you are encouraged to report your sightings in one of these ways:

In other good news, the bald eagle pair confirmed in Kenosha County last year is back. They've built an alternative nest on an adjacent landowner's property closer to a couple larger ponds, Fandel says.

Bald eagle populations have gradually recovered in Wisconsin and nationally as a result of the banning of the pesticide DDT nationally in 1972 (and in Wisconsin in 1969), a prohibition on killing of eagles, improved water quality in lakes and rivers, nest protection, and reintroduction of eagles in some areas. Bald eagles were removed from Wisconsin's endangered species list in 1997 and from the federal list in 2007. In 2017, Wisconsin aerial surveys confirmed a record 1,590 occupied nests.

Celebrate eagles' comeback by buying a license plate to fund the next conservation success

Eagle plate - Photo credit: DNR
Wisconsin residents can celebrate the continuing comeback of bald eagles and help fund the next conservation success by buying a bald eagle license plate.

Wisconsin residents can celebrate the continuing comeback of bald eagles and help fund the next conservation success by buying a bald eagle license plate. License plate sales and donations to the Endangered Resources Fund account for 25 percent of funding for work by DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation staff with endangered species and natural areas.

Learn more about Endangered Resources Fund and the on-the-ground conservation work it supports at dnr.wi.gov, keywords "Endangered Resources Fund."

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Contact information

For more information about news and media, contact:
James Dick
Director of Communications
608-267-2773