The bald eagle's history in Pennsylvania is a precarious one. Only 30 years ago, we had a mere three nests left in our entire state. With the help of the Canadian government, several agencies including the Pennsylvania Game Commission brought bald eagle chicks back to their states to reintroduce bald eagles to the Northeast. Today, Pennsylvania boasts more than 250 nests. This documentary is the story of that success.
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Often times when we talk about wildlife, we talk about it in a singular sense.
We say the cottontail rabbit, or the white-tailed deer as opposed to using plural nouns that would accurately represent their numbers.
But when it comes to the bald eagle, there was a time not so long ago in Pennsylvania that the singular noun nearly summed up the entire population.
In 1983, when the Pennsylvania Game Commission launched what would become a seven-year program to restore bald eagles, only three nests remained statewide. That's six adult birds – all of them located in Crawford County, in the northwestern corner of the state, along the Ohio border.
What a difference 30 years has made.
Today, bald eagles have become a common sight throughout much of Pennsylvania. So far this year, 268 nests have been counted statewide. And the Game Commission is considering a proposal to remove bald eagles from the state's list of threatened species.
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of those first restoration efforts, the Game Commission has produced a documentary on the bald eagle's successful comeback, and the film is scheduled be screened at several sites throughout the state.
"Pennsylvania Bald Eagles, Celebrating 30 Years of Restoration" brings full circle the amazing story of the bald eagle in the Commonwealth – following the species through its drastic decline and successful reintroduction to the present time, when the population once again is thriving.
The documentary features commentary from a host of experts. Game Commission endangered bird biologist Patti Barber, wildlife diversity section chief Dan Brauning, and wildlife conservation officer Ronda Bimber talk about the eagle's past, present and future.
Follow wildlife rehabilitators Carol Holmgren, Sue DeArment and Maryjane Angelo as the work to bring back to health injured bald eagles – one of them a 25-year-old bird that as an eaglet was plucked from a Canadian nest and brought to Pennsylvania as part of the Game Commission's seven-year restoration program. And watch as those birds are returned to the wild.
Running 22 minutes, the film does an amazing job of illustrating one of the great success stories in wildlife-conservation history, Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe said.
"The bald eagle's recovery in Pennsylvania has been nothing short of remarkable, and this film does an incredible job of telling that story" Roe said. "It celebrates a victory for wildlife conservation and will leave residents feeling proud to be Pennsylvanians."
"Pennsylvania Bald Eagles, Celebrating 30 Years of Restoration" was filmed and edited by Game Commission videographers Hal Korber and Tracy Graziano. The film has been entered in the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, and after making its tour around the state, will be made available to the public online.
Roe said the film was received warmly at its first public screening during a recent Board of Game Commissioners meeting. So many of those who were there and saw the film remarked on how moving they found it, he said. "People have an indescribable connection with bald eagles, and to see the bald eagle's tale of triumph laid out in this manner simply is a thing of beauty," Roe said.