Wild Times: Is One Too Many? Part Two

In 1967, the Bald Eagle was declared an endangered species. As a result of this declaration, further restrictions on commercial uses and stricter punishments for those who would harm the eagles were put into place.

Perhaps the biggest moment for eagle population stabilization and regeneration came when the chemical DDT was outlawed in 1972. DDT was an organic compound that was used in insecticide. Birds would ingest the insects that were exposed to the chemical and would die as a result. With stricter regulations in place and the outlawing of DDT, the eagle population began to steadily rebound.

By 1992, the eagle population was estimated to be back up to around 115,000. In 1995, the Bald Eagle was declassified from an endangered species to a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As the population continued to rebound, the eagle was taken off the endangered and threatened list altogether.

And that brings us to where we are today. With the apparent increase of Bald Eagles in Alaska and the contiguous 48 states, we have been blessed with frequent sightings in our area. So my sighting the other day was not such a big deal as it was years ago.

As I stood there watching that eagle fly toward the wind turbine, a thought came to my mind. It is no secret that wind turbines have an effect on bird populations. I was just wondering if there was any information on the cohabitations of wind turbines and eagle populations? Yes, there is!

Well it seems that President Obama signed into law a regulation that allows wind energy companies to operate in the presence of our national birds. This law was signed just before the former President left the White House. What a nice gift to our nation! Not only are the wind energy companies allowed to spin their turbines in areas inhabited by our national bird, they are allowed a quota of killed eagles.

After Obama signed this law, the Fish and Wildlife Service came up with a proposed plan that would allow the wind energy companies with 30 year permits — reviewable every five years — to kill up to 4,200 eagles per year. Yes, you read that right — 4,200!

According to an official in the Obama administration, this agreement would help the conservation of our national bird. Say what? The latest statistics show that there are around 143,000 eagles in the country. If there are 4,200 eagles killed by wind turbines every year, and I do not know if that could happen, in only 10 years the population would be hurt tremendously.

It takes four to five years for a Bald Eagle to be sexually mature. Usually two to three eggs are produced by a breeding pair. Out of the two to three, usually only one chick survives to the fledgling stage — just one! The latest statistics show that only 50 percent of those eagles will reach maturity. I don’t know how good you are with your math, but if we take up to 4,200 eagles out of the population each year and only 50 percent of fledgling birds make it to maturity our current population of 143,000 eagles will disappear rather quickly.

I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t look like this arrangement between the Fish and Wildlife and the wind energy companies is going to benefit our national bird.

Now if those numbers are a little shocking to you, what I am about to tell you is going to render you speechless. The 4,200 eagles allowed to be killed annually is not for all of the wind energy companies in our country. The 4,200 eagles allowed to be killed is for each company! Yes, you read it right! Each company can kill 4,200 eagles annually. Oh, and by the way, the wind energy companies will be self reporting any eagles they kill with their wind turbines. Wow!

There is a lot more information available if you care to look it up, but I will tell you that if you enjoy watching eagles, the information is not going to make you feel good.

We have worked so hard for all these years to restore our national bird, and now it seems that with one swipe of a pen by President Obama their demise will soon be apparent. So, in my opinion, even one eagle is one too many!

Tim Kellenberger113 Posts

Tim Kellenberger serves as Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for The Sabetha Herald since 2004. He specializes in sports reporting and column writing, as well as sports photography. Tim is a Grace University graduate with a dual degree in agricultural economics and human resource management. He lives in rural Sabetha with his wife and has four grown children and two grandchildren.


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