- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Wildlife officials in New Hampshire are proposing to remove the bald eagle from its list of threatened species, now that the bird has made a steady comeback in the state.

Bald eagles were scarce in the United States in the 1950s. But they started to return after insecticide DDT was banned in the 1970s and birds born in captivity were reintroduced to the wild.

New Hampshire started participating in a national midwinter eagle survey in 1981, when few were documented. And in 2007, bald eagles were removed from the federal endangered species list. The following year, New Hampshire upgraded the bird’s status from endangered to threatened.

Today, the New Hampshire Audubon Society says there are 56 territorial pairs that have produced 51 eaglets, the highest number of newborns ever documented. Young transient eagles that aren’t ready for mating yet can be seen during the summer, bringing the total estimate to 300-plus birds.

Chris Martin, a senior biologist at New Hampshire’s Audubon Society, said a combination of eagle activity monitoring, nest protection and outreach to landowners has helped the birds through the years. Volunteers have wrapped sheet metal around trees to prevent raccoons and fisher cats from getting to the eagles. They also worked with residents to preserve their shoreline trees for eagles to nest.

“Those early interventions that were taken around those nests certainly improved the number of young that were surviving,” said John Kanter, a supervisor of New Hampshire’s Fish and Game Department.

Besides the eagle, the department proposes removing the American marten from the threatened species list. It suggests adding several species to the endangered species list, such as four types of bats that have been affected by white nose syndrome, a fungal disease.

“They bunch up in these big clusters in mines and caves in the wintertime, exposing their fellow neighbors,” Kanter said.

A public hearing on revisions to the lists is scheduled for Nov. 3 at department headquarters in Concord. Written comments may be submitted until Nov. 14. A legislative committee ultimately decides whether to approve the revisions.

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