State and federal wildlife officials say bald eagle deaths from motor vehicles are on the rise in Michigan.
Vehicle accidents accounted for 29 percent of recorded eagle deaths between 1987 and 2008, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A total of 222 birds are known to have died from auto accidents during that period.
Eagles have been hit when they’re feeding on road kill. Scavenging behavior tends to increase during the winter months when ice develops on lakes and rivers, making foraging for fish more difficult.
So slow down if you see a dead animal alongside the road. A bald eagle may be nearby.
In Michigan, bald eagle populations have increased from 52 breeding pairs in 1961 to 630 breeding pairs in 2010. The bird was removed from the endangered species list in 2007, but is still protected by law.
Speaking of birds, the Kirtland’s Warbler is still on the endangered species list. But populations are exceeding recovery goals.
The latest annual survey of the birds in Michigan shows that the state’s population remains steady. A total of 1,733 singing males were recorded this year by biologists and researchers. The numbers have been steady for the last three years.
This year, singing males were found in 11 northern Michigan counties, including, Clare, Crawford, Iosco, Ogemaw, Oscoda and Roscommon counties.
The Kirtland’s Warbler is still listed as endangered, but forest management programs have helped stabilize their habitat, officials say.
The recovery goal for the birds is 1,000 singing males. Now, with the population at almost twice that number, state and federal officials are working to remove the species from the endangered species list, so funds and efforts can be focused on other species more in need of recovery efforts.
Environmental groups are praising the reappointment of Kirk Steudle as director of the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Steudle, a former Essexville city commissioner, has been reappointed to the position by incoming Governor Rick Snyder.
The Michigan Environmental Council says MDOT is a key player in transportation policy in Michigan, and Steudle has done a good job with limited resources since taking over the department in 2006.
Steudle also has supported important initiatives in the areas of passenger rail service and making towns and cities safer and more accessible for pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users and others, the environmental group says.
Steudle, who now lives in South Lyon, was formerly an MDOT engineer for the bay region.
— Photo Credit: Alan Vernon