From: Associated Press
Published March 20, 2006 12:00 AM

Eagle Lays First Egg in 50 Yrs on Santa Cruz

LOS ANGELES — For the first time in more than 50 years, an eagle has laid an egg in a nest on Santa Cruz Island, wildlife biologists announced Thursday.

They say the bird and its mate's first breeding attempt marked a significant milestone in their four-year effort to reintroduce the eagles to the island off the California coast. They're cautiously optimistic about the prospects of a chick hatching in the next few weeks.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed," said David Garcelon, president of the Institute for Wildlife Studies. "Regardless of the outcome, we will continue to intensely monitor this and other bald eagle pairs in the Channel Islands over the coming years to assess their overall reproductive success."

The last known successful nesting of a bald eagle on the four Northern Channel Islands was in 1949 on Anacapa Island.

The institute's program, which began in 2002, receives money from a $25 million fund to deal with the lingering effects of tons of DDT dumped into the ocean.

Bald eagles once flourished on the islands off the California coast but they disappeared in the 1960s as DDT polluted their food chain. The now-banned pesticide made the birds' eggshells brittle.

Earlier this week, funding to support five breeding pairs of bald eagles on another Channel island, Santa Catalina, was cut off until it is determined whether the birds can survive and flourish on their own there. The Santa Catalina eagles continue to produce fragile eggs, officials said.

Funding will continue for the reintroduction of the birds on Santa Cruz and other nearby Channel Islands that already have about two dozen birds.

Source: Associated Press

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