New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) staff responded to a report of a deceased eagle alongside a road in Henrietta, Monroe County, on Tuesday, June 2. According to the bald eagle's leg band number, it was 38 years old. The USGS Banding Lab Longevity Records indicate that the eagle is the oldest banded bald eagle encountered in the nation to date--by five years.
"This record eagle is a testament to the diligent conservation and
restoration work done under New York's Bald Eagle Restoration Program,"
said Executive Deputy Commissioner, Marc Gerstman. "It's truly
noteworthy that this eagle lived a long life and thrived in New York,
returning to his New York nest site to continue breeding. DEC's work to
conserve habitat and ensure clean air and clean water for bald eagles
and many of the other fish and wildlife is ongoing, including
participation in many research programs to ensure these species continue
to thrive in New York State."
According to banding records, this bird was a nestling originally
brought from Lake Puposky in northern Minnesota as part of New York's
Bald Eagle Restoration Program, one of only five young eagles raised and
released at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in the second year
of the program. The eagle was banded at few months of age in Seneca
Falls, Seneca County, in August of 1977 and raised and released at the
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Once it reached breeding age in
1981, it began nesting at Hemlock Lake, now part of Hemlock-Canadice
The Hemlock Lake nest territory continued on, and this eagle, banded
as 03142, became a steady and successful father to many eaglets fledged
from that site for many more years.
Peter Nye, retired DEC Wildlife Biologist, who spearheaded New York's
Bald Eagle Restoration Program reflected on the early days of the
program stated, "When we banded 03142 on August 5, 1977 and had no idea
how very special and significant this young bald eagle would become to
our nascent bald eagle restoration program. Based on his recent recovery
near this site, we have to assume he has been the resident male,
breeding here for the past 34 years. That's quite a stretch, and likely a
record in itself. His longevity, 38 years, although ingloriously cut
short by a motor vehicle, is also a National record for known life-span
of a wild bald eagle. All I can say is, hats off too you 03142; job well
Following a national ban on the chemical pesticide, DDT in 1972 and
prohibitions against taking or killing bald eagles in the federal
Endangered Species Act of 1973, New York State initiated a Bald Eagle
Restoration Project in 1976 to reestablish a breeding population.
The state hosted one remaining unproductive bald eagle nest on
Hemlock Lake in Livingston County. As an attempt to reestablish a small
breeding population in New York State, DEC released 23 fledgling bald
eagles at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in 1976 - 1980. In 1980,
the resident male of the state's last native pair of eagles at Hemlock
Lake was tragically found shot to death near the nest.
Over a 13-year period, 198 nestling bald eagles were collected from
nests in other states, raised to independence with minimal human contact
(a technique known as hacking), and released in New York. The hacked
eagles flourished and many of them returned to New York to nest and
breed. The hacking program concluded in 1988 because of its overwhelming
success, surpassing its original goal of 10 nesting pairs of bald
eagles in New York. Today, New York supports 350 pairs of nesting bald
The record eagle, found with a freshly killed rabbit nearby and
apparently had been hit by a vehicle. Vehicle collisions are one of the
leading causes of eagle deaths in New York State, accounting for more
than 30 percent of known recorded mortality.
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