AUGUSTA, Maine – Maine’s bald eagle population continues to soar, increasing by 101 nesting pairs to a total of 733, an increase of 16% since the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife conducted the last bald eagle survey five years ago in 2013.
Maine’s bald eagle population continues to grow in numbers across the entire state, affirming the remarkable rebound from the brink for this once-endangered species. MDIFW, working with private landowners, municipalities and other partners achieved exceptional results with the population rebounding from just 21 nesting pairs in 1967 to the 733 nesting pairs now.
We documented increases statewide in all 16 counties, but the highest population growth rates continue a recent shift westward and northward across the state, said MDIFW’s Charlie Todd, the endangered and threatened species coordinator who has been instrumental in guiding bald eagle recovery in Maine since the late 1970s. The aerial survey costs during 2018 were supported by Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration funds and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund.
Nine counties across central, southern, western, and northern Maine have eagle populations growing faster than the statewide average, said Todd. Downeast Maine remains the state’s stronghold and boasts the highest density of breeding eagles in any region between the Chesapeake Bay area and Nova Scotia.
A crew of four warden pilots and 17 wildlife biologists logged 240 hours in MDIFW aircraft documenting nests throughout the state. Late season snowstorms in March forced many eagles off their eggs, delayed egg-laying for others, and destroyed or damaged many more nests than normal. The count was completed late this summer.
The survey was timed throughout the state to match periods in the breeding cycle when eagles are mostly at nests. Nesting dates can vary by six weeks among neighboring eagle pairs.