Here lately I have heard several reports of people sighting bald eagles in Meigs and neighboring counties and have personally observed eagles on several occasions, along the Ohio River and at places further inland.
While there aren’t any exact numbers, the trend seems to be an increasing number of bald eagle sightings in southeastern Ohio, mostly along the Ohio River or around other bodies of water like the Hocking River or even large impoundments.
A few weeks ago Meigs County wildlife officer Josh Shields and I had the pleasure of watching not one, but two, bald eagles harassing sitting waterfowl on a large water impoundment.
We watched a mature bald eagle as it repeatedly swooped down toward a mixed flock of waterfowl, and the ducks literally churned the water to froth as they dived to avoid their tormentor. A few minutes later we noticed a second eagle in a nearby tree watching the entire scene. Our speculation was that they were hoping the ducks would take flight and make themselves vulnerable to being grabbed by the watching eagle.
In any event, none of the ducks took the bait and the bald eagles eventually left the area.
A few days before that I was driving along the Ohio River at Minersville and an eagle came flying by, just as plain as day.
Other people have told me about eagle sightings, and there isn’t any reason to doubt them. So the eagles are here. What we don’t know is if they are permanent residents of the area, or if they are just passing through or just hanging out for the winter.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, mid-winter is a rewarding time to view these magnificent national symbols. It is during this time of year that eagles begin to lay and incubate their eggs. In 2011 there were 194 known nesting pairs in 62 Ohio counties.
In Ohio, most eagle nests are found in the western Lake Erie marsh region, but they can be found throughout the state. However, remember that bald eagles are listed as threatened species in Ohio and are protected by law. Since this period is a critical time for eagle reproduction, make sure you don’t bother or interfere with nesting eagles.
Seeing these birds is a definite thrill and one thing is for sure, if you get a clear view of a mature bald eagle you aren’t going to mistake it for anything else. These very large birds truly have a striking appearance and commanding presence, as befitting a national symbol.
Division of Wildlife open houses slated
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife is holding open house meetings in all five districts to discuss season dates and bag limits of game species, which will include Ohio’s most popular game animal, the white-tailed deer. The meetings will be Saturday, March 3, from noon to 3 p.m. and are open to the public.
The closest open house meeting to Meigs and Gallia counties will be at the Wildlife District Four office at 360 E. State St., Athens.
“Anyone interested in providing input and participating in Ohio’s professional wildlife management process is welcome to attend,” said Scott Zody, chief of the Division of Wildlife. “Each open house location will have a fish and wildlife biologist as well as law enforcement officers available to answer questions.”
Public input gathered at these open houses will be forwarded to the division’s central office and considered during the formulation of regulations. A statewide hearing on all proposed rules will be held on Thursday, March 8, at 9 a.m. at the Division of Wildlife’s District One office, located at 1500 Dublin Road in Columbus. This hearing is open to the public and input is permitted.
For more information or directions to the open houses, visit the Division of Wildlife’s website at wildohio.com or call 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).
Jim Freeman is wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District. He can be contacted weekdays at 740-992-4282 or at email@example.com