Spotters for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources counted a record of over 44-hundred bald eagles in the state during their winter survey. That’s an increase over the nearly 25-hundred counted in the 2001 survey. The D-N-R’s Mark McInroy says a big reason for the increase was the cold weather conditions that concentrated the birds in one area. He says the years when we have mild weather, as opposed to being normal or harsh, the water is open and eagles tend to be more distributed throughout the state. This year the cold helped eagle counters. He says the conditions were almost perfect, with ice across 75 percent of the state, so the eagles were concentrated along the survey routes. He says the routes for the survey are along rivers where there will be open water that the eagles use to hunt for food. McInroy says the numbers this year are good, but it’s too eagle to says there’s a dramatic increase in the number of eagles nesting here. He says you have to keep the numbers in perspective for the number of years the survey has been run, and you have to compare it to the national numbers overall. Lower survey numbers in surrounding states could indicate that the eagles move to Iowa looking for food during harsh winter weather. McInroy says the large count is a testament to the efforts to bring back the national symbol that had once almost been wiped out. He says the trend has continued to be up almost every year, with only a couple of dips in the eagle numbers. That trend goes from 380 when the count started in 1983, to the four-thousand-432 counted this year. McInroy says the survey showed that there are about 160 established eagle nests in 61 Iowa counties.
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