From 1961 to 1987, no bald eagles hatched in metropolitan Detroit. In 1963, there were fewer than 1,000 nesting eagles in the U.S. In Michigan, there were only 69 eagle nests in 1969.
This decline is mostly attributed to the increased use of pesticides that contained DDT and increased industrial production that used PCBs. These chemicals weakened the eggs, which were easily crushed when adult eagles tried to incubate them, and it led to a higher fatality rate for adult bald eagles.
Today, there are about 800 nesting pairs of bald eagles in Michigan alone, and they are all federally protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
“The bald eagle population has made a great recovery in the state. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service currently monitors bald eagle populations in Michigan,” said Holly Vaughn, acting public outreach and engagement unit manager of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “The DNR supports bald eagle habitat by managing aquatic, wetland, lakeshore and coastal habitat which benefits bald eagles.”
According to the Michigan Wildlife Council, bald eagles have been the national emblem of the U.S. since 1782. They’ve been a spiritual symbol for indigenous populations for thousands of years, and the species was nearly wiped out.
The Michigan Wildlife Council was created in 2013 to increase public knowledge of the importance of wildlife management and conservation, as well as the positive impact that hunting and fishing have on Michigan’s wildlife and natural resources.
Along with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Michigan Wildlife Council also credits the Dingell-Johnson Act, which placed a fee on fishing equipment in order to fund Michigan’s wildlife conservation and management activities.
It raised an estimated $10.7 million last year, which goes to conservation and monitoring work.
Fees from hunting and fishing licenses also help, with approximately $61 million being raised in 2018 for invasive species remediation and habit rehabilitation.
Documented local sightings
In August 2017, a group gathered at a home in Fenton Township to watch a rehabilitated eagle take flight. It had been found as an injured juvenile in June along Hogan Road.
In February 2016, a bald eagle was seen eating a deer carcass at Linden and Lahring roads, across from Hilltop Farms.
In June 2015, a reader sent in photos of a bald eagle resting on a watercraft on Lake Fenton.
Times Editor Sharon Stone said her family has seen bald eagles perched high atop trees along Lake Ponemah and Squaw Lake this summer and last summer.
Source: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, content.govdelivery.com, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service