Wisconsin's population of bald eagles has rebounded from near decimation forty years ago. The DNR is hosting a series of free events in the Fox Valley this weekend to bring the public closer to the national bird.
Back in the 1970s, chemicals like DDT and PCBs almost killed off the bald eagle. Forty years ago there were only about 100 pairs of the birds in Wisconsin.
Dick Nikolai is a DNR wildlife biologist. He says there are now more than 1,000 pairs statewide.
“We have seven to eight nests here on the Fox River alone. When I first came here to Appleton we had no nesting eagles at all. So that was in the early 80s. We had no eagles wintering, basically, on the Fox River. Now we have several hundred that people can view and watch.”
A series of free events is set for Saturday at city parks around the valley and at the 1,000 Islands Environmental Center in Kaukauna. A rehabilitated eagle will be released into the wild.
Nikolai says this Saturday's official eagle watching day is a good chance to get an upclose look at the birds and to ask questions of experts.
“They have a seven and a half foot wingspan. They're long-lived birds. It just gives them an understanding that these are birds of prey, they're very powerful birds that can catch fish or catch rabbits or catch ducks. They're part of our lives here in the Fox Valley.”
Nikolai says the Fox River cleanup has also restored wetlands. That's also has helped attract more eagles, or given young eagles viable territory to live in.