National Conservation Training Center Issues Statement on Resident Eagles

Caption // Photo Credit: Todd Harless USFWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - March 22, 2011

Shepherdstown, WV – Since 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) has connected people to nature by streaming live video of a pair of American bald eagles to viewers across the country and abroad via a camera placed near the eagles’ nest.

The NCTC eagle cam serves as an educational tool to showcase eagle biology, including mating behavior, egg laying, incubation, and in a successful year, rearing eagle chicks until they are old enough to leave the nest. Although the NCTC campus is closed to the public (with the exception of the annual open house and occasional special events), the cam records video year round can be accessed online anytime at: www.fws.gov/nctc/cam/livevideo.html.

After many years of viewing the same pair of eagles, this year we have witnessed the process of natural competition within a species. Recently a third eagle, believed to be a female of breeding age, has been sighted near the nest and appears to be asserting control over the nest and surrounding territory. This is typical eagle behavior in a robust, healthy population and likely indicates that the eagle population near NCTC has increased in recent years.

In response to this behavior, many eagle cam viewers have expressed concern. It is important to highlight to our public viewers that the eagles residing on NCTC’s land are exposed to natural environmental pressures, including the presence of other eagles. At times the camera may be difficult to watch. While NCTC provides the opportunity to view live video of wild eagles, our position is not to interfere in any way.

Craig Koppie, regional eagle coordinator and raptor biologist at the Service’s Chesapeake Bay field office, is working closely with NCTC to monitor the situation. Koppie said, “there are times when intervention is not the correct course of action. Breeding birds are very sensitive to human disturbance, and interfering could result in abandonment of the nest.” Koppe also acknowledged that, “as hard as it is to watch an older generation of eagles potentially be displaced by a younger generation, we need to inform the public that the aggressive behavior we’re seeing is natural. The most fit individual will emerge as having control of the nest and surrounding territory, and this individual will go on to contribute to the next generation of eagles, keeping the species and the population strong.”

NCTC is committed to providing factual, science-based updates on current nest activity. To monitor these updates, please visit: www.fws.gov/nctc/cam. Contact Sarah Gannon-Nagle (FWS), 304-876-7459 with media inquiries.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

The National Conservation Training Center is the home of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a leader in environmental sustainability. The center provides quality training tailored to support Service employees and conservation partners in the accomplishment of the agency’s mission. For more information about NCTC or our green practices, visit nctc.fws.gov.

-FWS-

 -- published --  March 22, 2011
 -- photo credit --  Todd Harless USFWS

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