Nature Lab

By Bonnie Chasteen | December 1, 2020
From Missouri Conservationist: December 2020
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Each month, we highlight research MDC uses to improve fish, forest, and wildlife management.

Wildlife Management

Eagle Watch Program

When bald eagles begin nesting in the Marshfield area, auto mechanic Jonathon Wilson spends almost every Saturday and Sunday watching them. “I just get lost in it,” he said.

This is Wilson’s second year volunteering with Missouri’s Eagle Watch Program, started by MDC Scientist Janet Haslerig in 2018. She leads Missouri’s baldeagle monitoring program, an annual effort begun in 2007, shortly after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the bird from the federal endangered species list. “After delisting, states were asked to monitor their bald eagle populations,” Haslerig said.

She soon felt the need for help with this task, noting that other states were training volunteers to monitor local eagle nests.

“It seemed like a good way to get people involved as well as reduce competing demands on staff,” she said.

To train volunteers quickly, Haslerig posted videos and documents online. Currently, she has 89 volunteers monitoring 285 nests. “But,” she said, “we have over 500 active nests, so we need more help, especially in the northwest part of the state, where wind energy development is ongoing.”

“During project planning, wind energy developers can make accommodations to reduce potential disturbance to nesting eagles, and local monitors can help document the progress of these reduction efforts,” Haslerig said.

Having trained, dedicated volunteers “is our first line of defense in detecting immediate, local threats,” she said.

Wilson, who enjoys watching the state’s bald eagle numbers grow, emphasized that it’s important to learn how to monitor correctly. “It’s easy to spook an eagle, and sometimes they never come back,” he said.

To sign up for the Eagle Watch program, contact Janet Haslerig at 573-522-4115, ext. 3198 or EagleWatch@mdc.mo.gov.

Eagle Watch Program at a Glance

Purpose

Train citizen scientists to monitor Missouri’s bald eagle population and productivity trends

Objectives
  • Increase public awareness and education to ensure the bald eagle’s continued recovery
  • Educate volunteers about eagle nesting biology and monitoring techniques
  • Locate new nests and verify and update status of existing nests
How Monitoring Info is Used
  • Populate and update information in the Natural Heritage Database
  • Compile data for publication and distribution to the public
  • Determine where conservation action may be needed

Volunteers are needed in the state's four corners Learn more at research.mdc.mo.gov

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler