Florida bald eagles becoming city dwellers

Jan. 27, 2012 at 2:24 PM
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The recovery of bald eagles in Florida is pushing the birds closer to city environments less suitable for them as the best habitats fill up, experts say.

"I think we're potentially at carrying capacity for eagles in this state, and now the eagles are moving to less desirable habitat," said biologist Janell Brush with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"This is a new trend that we're seeing. But I think that urban areas are not sustainable for these eagles," she told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Bald eagles, which nearly vanished in the 1960s before the banning of the pesticide DDT that thinned their eggshells, have staged an impressive comeback, conservationists said.

Florida has the largest population of the birds outside of Alaska and Minnesota and has recorded 1,340 active nests.

"When we started our surveys in 1973, only 20 of Florida's 67 counties were known to have eagles nesting in them," Brush said. "In 2008 we surveyed and 64 counties had active nests in them, so that's an indication of a recovering population reclaiming territory."

But part of that territory is in urban environments that pose new risks for the eagles, including power lines and heavy traffic particularly dangerous for young birds, experts said.

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