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Bald is Beautiful

Staff Writer

A Bald Eagle and a Golden Eagle were set up for the day.

Bald Eagle Day was celebrated around the state on Feb. 7. Division of Wildlife Resource officers set up a viewing station at Desert Lake, east of Elmo, for the residents of surrounding areas to utilize.

Officers of the DWR had been scouting around the area for several weeks to locate the choicest viewing spot. Several bald eagles were in the Desert Lake area for some time. Utah has the largest population of wintering bald eagles of any state in the western United States.

As the numbers of eagles declined drastically in the 1960s, the bald eagle was listed as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act in 1972. Subsequent to the introduction of DDT to the US following World War II, the decline in the numbers of bald eagles was noted. The determination was made that the use of DDT was, in fact, having a severe effect on the population of the national symbol.

Eighteen years later, in 1995, the bald eagle was upgraded to the "threatened" status. The population numbers are on the increase, but constant monitoring is required to ensure that the numbers continue to rise.

It is estimated that approximately 13,000 bald eagles winter in the lower 48 states. Of that 13,000, 3-4,000 of those birds winter in Utah. This number indicates the significance of Utah's winter habitat.

DWR officers had been watching the eagles, and carrying roadkill animals to the Desert Lake area to be sure that the wintering population had plenty to eat. On the Saturday set aside for specific viewing of the eagles, they were nowhere to be found.

The display that was set up on the roadway outside of Elmo was not wasted however. Officer Brent Stettler had stuffed and mounted bald eagles, a golden eagle and several types of raptors on display. Stettler was on hand to answer any questions, and hand out information and posters, as well as hot drinks.

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