Mild weather drops Md. bald-eagle count

OUTDOORS

February 10, 1991|By PETER BAKER

Last year, 263 bald eagles were counted in Maryland's midwinter survey at Aberdeen Proving Grounds near the head of Chesapeake Bay and at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge. This year, the January survey turned up 115 bald eagles and two golden eagles.

Glenn Therres, supervisor of nongame and urban wildlife for the Department of Natural Resources, said, however, that the lower count does not mean Maryland's portion of the endangered bald eagle population is in further jeopardy.

"The numbers recorded this year were average since the survey was initiated in 1979," Therres said. "The number of eagles wintering in Maryland fluctuates with the cold weather, and since we had a mild December here, the eagle numbers were less than last year when we had frozen conditions during the same period."

In 1979, the survey showed only 44 bald eagles wintering in Maryland. Last year's count of 263 was the highest on record.

The midwinter survey is part of a national bald eagle survey coordinated by the National Wildlife Federation. Last winter, 13,574 bald eagles were found in the lower 48 states.

At Aberdeen and along the Susquehanna River, 65 bald eagles and one golden eagle were counted last month. The survey counted 50 bald eagles and one golden eagle at Blackwater.

"Because the survey targets [only] the major wintering areas in Maryland, most of our breeding population is not counted," said Therres.

Last year, 123 pairs of bald eagles nested in Maryland.

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The first Denil fish ladder built in Maryland is operational at Van Bibber Dam on Winters Run in Harford County.

The Van Bibber fishway will pen 3.5 miles of spawning habitat for anadromous herring and shad that has been closed since the dam was built in 1942.

A Denil fish ladder is a concrete structure of inclined chutes that are fitted with baffles to slow the rate of water passage and allow fish to swim upstream.

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The Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association has donated the time and materials to the DNR for the construction of artificial fishing reefs to be placed on an existing reef site near Love Point at the mouth of the Chester River.

The pilot program enlisted volunteers from MSSA chapters throughout the bay region to build 200 reef units of concrete and old tires.

The reefs, which will be put in place by DNR this month and next, are intended to provide underwater structure that will attract species of fish valued by sportfishermen.

Love Point historically has been a good site for bluefish, rockfish and white perch.

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Figures released by the DNR show Maryland's population of winter Canada geese up 32 percent over last year. But perhaps more interesting is that the number of ducks recorded during the midwinter survey was up 70 percent over last year.

The duck count is well above predicted increases ranging from 10 to 20 percent. Dabbling and diving ducks increased 34 and 101 percent, respectively. Mallards, black ducks, widgeon, green-winged teal, scaup, bufflehead and ruddy ducks also were recorded in greater numbers.

Counts for canvasback and goldeneye, however, were lower than last year.

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Entries in the design contest for the 1991-92 migratory waterfowl stamp will be judged March 22 at the Pascal Center at Anne Arundel Community College.

Entries must be received by DNR's Public Affairs office in Annapolis by the close of business on March 8.

Information on contest rules may be obtained by calling (301) 974-2035 or (301) 974-3987.

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The Southern Maryland Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America has obtained 141 acres in Charles County as the site for an IWLA Southern Maryland Outdoor Education Center.

The site is Mandley Farm, at the fork of the Zekiah and Jordan swamps.

A report by the DNR's Forest, Park and Wildlife Service shows the acreage suitable for bird banding, fishing, hunter safety demonstrations, retriever trials, bird watching, handicapped hunts, youth camping and archaeological digs.

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