Protecting a Pair of Bald Eagles
Preserving a National Icon
Anderson Humane is helping Mooseheart Child City & School save the bald eagles who chose their property to build their home – a nest which is now in grave danger.
For years, staff at Mooseheart Child City & School have been monitoring the status of a dying pine tree on their property that houses an active nest of bald eagles. The nest is also located above an asphalt parking lot, near a football field and a busy road. In recent years, the tree has become more unstable, and the nest has become larger.
Per the recommendation of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the tree needs to be cut down before it falls and before the next season’s eaglets are born. With their home gone, the bald eagle couple will be free to build a new nest in a location of their choosing. In keeping with USFWS requirements, the nest will be destroyed and disposed of once the tree is cut down.
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Why does the nest need to go?
The tree is dying. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff members recommended that the tree be cut down before it falls and before the next season’s eaglets are born.
It also poses safety concerns to both the eagles and people.
In 2019, the male of the bald eagle pair that had built a nest on another part of Mooseheart’s property was killed when struck by a car on a nearby road. It is believed the current bald eagle pair consists of the original female and a new mate.
In 2011, a bald eagle nest on a different part of Mooseheart’s property fell to the ground during a storm. While the eaglets inside were unharmed, their parents didn’t take care of them after the fall, and they had to be removed and cared for by a local wildlife center until they were old enough to survive in the wild.
The Mooseheart bald eagles draw crowds of birdwatchers, especially during the spring eaglet season. The crowds create traffic issues on a busy street near a school and impact the the safety and privacy of the school’s young students.
What will happen to the eagles?
With their home gone, the bald eagle couple will be free to build a new nest in a location of their choosing.
Cathy Pollack, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Chicago Ecological Services Office: “A bald eagle pair will often build two nests and at the last minute decide which one to lay eggs in. So they may already have another nest. If not, the pair will find another tree to build a nest in. In nature, nests come down all the time.”
What about the nest?
In keeping with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requirements, the nest will be destroyed and disposed of once the tree is cut down.
Why can't the nest be relocated?
After extensive research and in consultation with a wildlife biologist and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), staff at Anderson Humane found that relocating the nest would be costly and offered a low probability of success. Specialists in nest relocation reported that eagles are not likely to take to the new nest location.
Call Larry Dean, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at 612-713-5312 or [email protected] with questions.
Cathy Pollack, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Chicago Ecological Services Office
“It’s in the best interest of the eagle pair to take the tree down in the non-breeding season. The tree looks like it could come down easily in a storm and the nest looks large and heavy. The worst case scenario would be the tree coming down with the eagles or their eaglets in the nest.”
Beth Foster, President & CEO, Anderson Humane
“Anderson Humane has partnered with Mooseheart for several years, providing opportunities for children to engage in positive interactions with animals. We’re thrilled and honored to support Mooseheart in its efforts to act in the best interest of the eagles while also safeguarding the human community.”
Gary Urwiler, Executive Director, Mooseheart Child City & School
“For over a decade, we have been privileged to have a mated pair of bald eagles choose Mooseheart as a safe place to live and raise their offspring. It has been an honor to witness eagle life. We have done our best to maintain the status quo; however, after many discussions, it was determined that it is now time to act.”
Mooseheart Child City & School
Mooseheart, IL 60539