Eagle population hits record high in Wisconsin; 1,590 nesting pairs found during annual surveySubmitted: 12/06/2017
Story By Katie Thoresen

Eagle population hits record high in Wisconsin; 1,590 nesting pairs found during annual survey
ONEIDA COUNTY - In 1973, the DNR found 108 nesting pairs of eagles. 

This year, it found 1,590, which is the highest number of eagles in the state since the DNR started the survey. 

"If you had asked our eagle folks 25 years ago if we would ever see 1,500 pairs of nesting eagles in the state. I think the answer would have been no way," said DNR Natural Heritage Conservation program coordinator Jim Woodford. 

The DNR found 86 more nesting pairs of eagles in the state than they did last year, but it actually went down in Oneida County.

Oneida and Vilas counties have the highest populations of eagles in the state. 

Woodford, who was part of the DNR's survey team, says the decrease of nesting pairs isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

It likely means that the eagle population in Oneida County has reached its maximum size. 

"The one surprising thing this year was the lack of any new territories showing up in Oneida County. It's not anything to be concerned about eagles. It's just the natural thing. There's only enough space for the numbers that we have," said Woodford.

The rising eagle population over the years has meant a large patient load of wildlife rehabilitators like Mark Naniot. 

The Wild Instincts Rehabilitation Director said he used to only see two or three eagles a year when he first started out about 30 years ago. 

Last year, he took in 47.

"We see a lot more territorial fights than we saw before because of course there's more eagles so they're fighting more for territory. They're spreading their limits out a lot more," said Naniot. 

Woodford says banning the pesticide DDT helped the eagle population the most. It was banned in 1972.
Now, according to Naniot, cars and lead poisoning are the biggest threats to eagles. 

"About 80-85 percent of the eagles that we see have some levels of lead or toxic levels where they need to be treated," said Naniot.

Naniot tests every eagle he gets for lead. He says it only takes a small particle of lead to poison an eagle.
Naniot says those lead particles usually come from bullets. Lead particles from bullet usually spread about an eight-inch radius around the entry wound. 

If hunters leave the deer carcass somewhere that eagles can get to it, eagles can ingest a lead particle.
"On your hunting and fishing equipment, get rid of the lead, we've been trying to tell people that for many years. There's alternatives out there," said Naniot. "Get rid of the lead. Get the newer equipment that doesn't contaminate the equipment."

While Naniot hopes people will remove lead from their outdoor gear, the rising eagle population makes him and Woodford hopeful for the species future. 

Woodford said the biggest surprise was finding a nest in Kenosha County. 

It's the first time one was found in the county in more than a century. There's now only two counties in Wisconsin, Milwaukee and Walworth, without a nesting pair of eagles. 

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 08/17/2018

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We talk to area school district administrators about the problem they're facing with teacher shortages and how the schools are trying to work around those shortages.

We'll bring you the scene at Dunkin' Donuts in Rhinelander today where several police cars arrived and an officer even stood on the roof, not for an emergency, but for a good cause.

And we kick-off another season of Friday Night Blitz where we will bring you scores from high school games all across North Central Wisconsin as well as highlights from the following football games:

Prescott vs. Rhinelander

Wittenberg-Birnamwood vs. Northland Pines

Shiocton vs. Tomahawk

Deerfield vs. Three Lakes/Phelps

Belleville vs. White Lake/Elcho

That will be tonight on Friday Night Blitz at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10.

We'll bring you this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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MILWAUKEE - Heavy rains that flooded a section of Interstate 43 in the Milwaukee area left several motorists stranded.

The North Shore Fire Department responded to the scene Friday morning to help motorists, some of whom were sitting atop their flooded cars. Four people had to be rescued, and two others got out on their own.

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People in the area always look forward a tradition in its 56th year.

The Eagle River Recreation Association hosts a huge auction in mid-August.

"It keeps the lights on in this place. To run a rink is extremely expensive. We try to the best we can with what we have here to bring down those fees so hockey and skating becomes affordable for everybody up here," said ERRA President Patrick Schmidt.

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MADISON - Buildings destroyed by a natural gas explosion in Wisconsin will be removed at the end of the month.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the July 10 blast in Sun Prairie destroyed six businesses, one home and killed a volunteer firefighter. Many of the buildings damaged include apartments.

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RHINELANDER - The Wilderness Queen river boat moved from the Willow Flowage to its home in Rhinelander 10 years ago.
Later this fall it will move again, but sadly much farther away.

Owner Patty Zastrow sold the boat to people from southern Wisconsin.  She's moving out of state with her husband.

Zastrow is sad to see the boat leave the Northwoods after owning it for six years.  Current State Senator Tom Tiffany owned the boat for 20 years and ran it on the Flowage in western Oneida County before selling it.

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RHINELANDER - Hardly anyone goes through life without knowing someone who is affected by cancer in some way.

Thursday evening people gathered to honor those impacted by cancer at the11th annual Celebration of Life in Rhinelander.

Organizers emphasized that cancer survivors can still live active and productive lives.

Becky Gauthier of Rhinelander gave the keynote speech.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2017.

She shared her story that's been driven by courage.

"If it's ever you, just have hope," Gauthier said. "Don't ever give up. Just know that miracles happen every day and even if they tell you bad news, it doesn't mean it's your future."

At the end of the ceremony organizers released butterflies as a symbol of hope. 

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