Used to be North Carolinians could only see a bald eagle if they were traveling in the wildest reaches of the United States or they saw the creature on television or in a movie. In fact, about 40 years ago, the majestic birds were nearly extinct in most of North America.
In North Carolina, that started to change in 1983 when biologists released the first of 29 young eagles near Lake Mattamuskeet in Hyde County.
Now bald eagles have made a dramatic comeback. State officials are reluctant to say where the birds are because they don’t want people to gather and drive them away just by watching them.
But this we know: The eagles are in residence at just about every lake in North Carolina, including lakes in the Triangle.
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They’ve benefited from federal protections – and time.
Nature photographer Brent Bogart of Wake Forest, who’s a corporate recruiter by profession, put it simply: “The comeback they’ve made is just amazing. It shows that conservation works.”
Conservation works. That’s it exactly. After all, this bird has been the national symbol of the United States since 1782. But then came hunters and long-term effects from pesticides.
Extinction was the likely outcome, but these birds were saved because the government was willing to take action toward helping them survive.
So now at Falls Lake, Jordan Lake and elsewhere bald eagles soar in North Carolina’s skies.