- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2004

The Chesapeake Bay Program’s Christopher Conner passed along welcome news about the state of the bald eagle population in the Chesapeake’s watershed.

“Bald eagles continue their record-breaking resurgence [according to] 2003 bald eagle survey data,” he said. Conner pointed out the baywide population grew to 760 occupied nests, marking a 10 percent increase from the previous year and a 10-fold increase since bay-wide data collection began in 1977.

He added that the Chesapeake area is home to some of the most productive nesting grounds in the nation. In Virginia’s portion of the Bay watershed, 396 occupied nests fledged 404 young in 2003, while Maryland had 338 occupied nests. The watershed’s portion of Pennsylvania is home to 25 occupied nests and 33 young, and even the District of Columbia saw an occupied nest with an eaglet.

“Restoration of vital habitat and improvements in water quality will provide bald eagles the greatest opportunity to thrive throughout the Bay watershed,” said Chesapeake Bay Program director Rebecca Hanmer.

Scientists believe that more than 3,000 eagle pairs once inhabited the Chesapeake’s rivers and main body’s shorelines, but the populations crashed to an all-time low in 1977 when only 74 pairs nested hereabouts. The banning of the pesticide DDT in 1972 and subsequent federal Endangered Species Act protection have helped bring back the species.

As we now know, eagles who ingested fish that lived in waters with runoff containing DDT soon had egg shells so weak they couldn’t support a nesting eagle’s weight. Eggs were crushed, and the population plummeted.

The road to recovery began with the banning of the pesticide, a protected habitat and an improvement in local fisheries. The birds now find it easy to hunt food and feed themselves as well as their offspring.

The data for the baywide survey of eagles was collected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William & Mary for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The Chesapeake Bay Program is restoring the Bay watershed through a partnership among the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Chesapeake Bay Commission and citizens advisory groups.

Wrong date on flea market — Virginia’s Bob Pettey writes, “Thanks for the writeup in the paper about the flea market. I got a lot of calls on the phone from people who read the article, [but] there is one problem. The bass fishing flea market is on [Feb.] 14, 8a.m. to 1p.m., Hillendale Firehouse, 13511 Hillendale Drive, Dale City, Va.” Originally, it was listed as Feb.7. So if you couldn’t go this past weekend, now is your chance. There will be new and used fishing tackle. Admission is $2, and those under 12 get in free. Need information? Call Pettey, 703/491-3321.

Humpback whales are returning — From the Sea Web education and conservation group comes word that after four decades of protection, humpback whales in the North Atlantic are showing signs of recovery. The humpback population had been nearly depleted by commercial whaling operations the past several centuries. The International Whaling Commission began to protect the huge mammals in 1955 when their number hovered between 1,700 and 3,400, and now there are approximately 11,570 humpbacks in the North Atlantic. That’s a better number, although it would be nice to see them return to their former glory, when nearly a quarter-million humpbacks roamed the same waters.

EVENTS

Bass fishing flea market — Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Hillendale Firehouse, Dale City, Va. New and used fishing tackle. Information: Bob Pettey, 703/491-3321.

• Washington Boat Show — Feb. 18-22, Washington Convention Center. More than 500 boats and more than 200 display booths. Information: 703/823-7960 or washingtonboatshow.com.

• Trout Unlimited chapter meeting — Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m., Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Center, Silver Spring. The Potomac-Patuxent chapter of Trout Unlimited presents outdoors writer King Montgomery on flyfishing in the Mid-Atlantic region. Information: pptu.org or 301/593-5889.

• CCA/Southern Maryland Winter Barbecue — Feb. 21, 6 p.m., at Izaak Walton League Hall, Waldorf. Information: Donald Gardiner, 301/645-3323 or 301/843-3719.

• Fly Fishers buy, sell, swap meet — Feb. 21, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Davidsonville (Md.) Recreation Center. (Rain or snow date: Feb. 28.) Information: Mike Price, 410/320-0080.

Pigs on the Potomac — Feb. 26, 6 p.m., Silver Spring Knights of Columbus, 9707 Rosensteel Avenue. Greater Washington Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association/Maryland has its annual banquet and fund-raiser. Information: Robert Glenn, 888/758-6580; [email protected]

Wild Turkey Federation banquet — March 6, the National Capital Area Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s annual sportsmen’s banquet at West Park Lions Club, Manassas, Va. Information and registration: Linda Layser, 703/425-6665; [email protected]

• Wilderness first aid — March 6-7. Alexandria. The 18-hour class results in a two-year certification. Cost: $160. Information: 703/836-8905; wfa.net.

• Fishing and Outdoor Show — March 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Izaak Walton League, Waldorf, Md. Free casting lessons and rope splicing lessons. Learn where, how and what the bass are biting. Information: Don Gardiner, 301/645-3323; [email protected]

Ducks Unlimited casino night — March 19, 6:30 p.m., at the Fairview Park Marriott, Falls Church. Includes a buffet, cocktails, raffles and prizes. The DU State Convention Awards Banquet is March 20 at the same hotel, 6 p.m. Information, Mike Hinton, 202/720-1764.

• Baltimore Antique Arms Show — March 20-21, Maryland State Fairgrounds, Timonium. Show opens at 9 a.m. both days and features exhibitors from 42 states and seven foreign countries. No modern handguns permitted. Information: baltimoreshow.com; 301/865-6804.

• Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]

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