168 Eagles strong on APG
February 11, 2014
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - A total of 168 bald eagles were counted on APG during the 2014 Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Survey that was conducted by helicopter Jan. 12.
An additional 37 bald eagles were counted along the Susquehanna River. The total number, 205, was only slightly higher than the average count of 197 for the last five surveys. Environmental Protection Specialist Lynda Hartzell from the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division, Natural Resources Branch, said bald eagles, which were once on the nation's threatened and endangered species list, thrive at APG, due to miles of undisturbed shoreline and an abundance of mature shoreline trees.
APG conducts this annual survey in early January as a cooperative effort with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. APG's database, from 1986 to the present, is one of only two historic collections of mid-winter bald eagle population data in Maryland. The survey route includes the shoreline and tributaries of APG and the Susquehanna River north to the Exelon Peach Bottom power plant. APG provides the data to MDNR which compiles all data within the state to estimate the region-wide bald eagle population.
Hartzell said the data collected from the survey help to identify long-term population trends and distributions of eagles.
"This information is critical to effectively implementing APG's bald eagle management and compliance program," she said.
Hartzell said the annual count is a snapshot, just one tool that makes up APG's bald eagle monitoring program. The DPW Environmental Division also conducts flyovers several times each nesting season to monitor new nests and count the number of eggs and chicks per nest. Currently the division is tracking 78 nests. Last year, APG had 51 active nests which produced a total of 90 chicks.
"We have averaged 50 active nests and 89 chicks for the past 3 years," she said.
APG has documented significant growth in the installation's eagle population since the mid-1980s. "Based on these data, APG has coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to transition APG's bald eagle program from a very rigid, conservative management strategy to one that is much more flexible and adaptive to both the military mission and the conservation of the eagles," Hartzell said.
Bald eagles are no longer endangered, but they are still protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which prohibits the killing, wounding and trapping of animals. The Army coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Chesapeake Bay Field Office to develop a bald eagle management plan. As part of the management program, DPW Environmental developed a bald eagle awareness training course. The eagle awareness training provides guidance to working near eagle areas. The training is mandatory for the APG workforce and is available on-line from the Garrison website (under "e-Learning").
Hartzell reminds APG motorists to respect the road barricades that block access into some nest areas. At the start of each nesting season, Dec. 15, the DPW Environmental Division places a limited number of road barricades to restrict access into nest areas. These barricades are generally limited to small access roads that pass very close to the nest tree. Either wooden barricades with metal eagle placards or yellow caution tape are used. Motorists are asked to not drive past these barricades or cut the tape. For any questions or concerns, they should contact Hartzell at 410-436-0465.