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Iowa Survey Counts Record Number of Eagles

Stephen Hager

There is a record number of bald eagles in Iowa this year. That's the result of this year's Bald Eagle Midwinter Survey by the Iowa DNR.

Since 1991, volunteers have gone out each January to count them. Wildlife Diversity Biologist Stephanie Shepherd says even though there are differences from year to year, their main goal is to see what possible trends there are across time for eagle populations.

"We broke records this year in the number of eagles that were counted on the survey. Actually I had a little more data come in and it's closer to 5,700 so we almost hit 6,000 eagles on the count. But, just to contrast, last year we had one of our lowest counts with under 2,000 eagles counted."

Although eagle populations have been rising in Iowa and the Midwest since the early 90s, Shepherd says bald eagles still face some challenges.

"Loss of habitat as many species do, they need very specific trees to build their nests in and that kind of thing. They are susceptible to lead poisioning. They do a lot of scavenging, they pick up lead ammunition out of hunter killed deer, gut piles that are left. They'll forage and scavenge on those."

This year's Midwinter Survey in Iowa counted eagles along 1,600 miles of rivers and lakeshores. There were 12 eagles per mile along the Iowa River and 10 along the Mississippi River.