While hydro facilities are providing healthy habitat to help bald eagles reach record numbers in Michigan, Kalamazoo River bald eagles are only half as productive. In 1953, Allegan landed in the national spotlight with this photo from Lake Allegan where the fish tried to make it out of the Kalamazoo River and into Dumont Creek, an incoming tributary. Paper mills upstream increased pollutants that took the oxygen out of the water and the fish died. The photo caption was “Four acres of carp corpses on the Kalamazoo.”

Bald eagles come soaring back from the brink

By: 
Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

America’s national symbol is becoming one of Ameri­ca’s most revered conservation stories.

While bald eagles did not nest in Allegan County for nearly 30 years, there are now at least three nesting pairs.

But there’s still work to be done. The productivity rate of eagles nesting south of Lake Allegan, near the Kalamazoo River, has only half the successful production rate as eagles nesting on other Michigan rivers and the Great Lakes.

Paper mills releasing PCBs into the Kalamazoo River left eagles who did return to the area with eggs too thin to incubate. The eagle’s diet of fish contained the toxins.

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, bald eagle injury assessments from ex-posure to PCBs also include death in embryos, increased susceptibility to disease, and behavioral abnormalities such as impaired courtship, abnormal nest building and avoidance behavior.

Consumers Energy recently released information on its bald eagle management plan, which, since 1994, has increased breeding territories and added 270 new eaglets to areas near the Cooke, Loud, Mio and Tippy hydro dams along the Manistee, Au Sable and Muskegon rivers.

For full story, pick up a copy of the March 26 issue of The Allegan County News or subscribe to the e-edition.

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