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Bald Eagle Restoration Program 1986-2012
Bald Eagles Return to the Central Coast

After release eagles returned for food until they gained independence 30 foot tall release tower in Big Sur, California in 1993 Up to 12 eaglets inside release tower One of 12 eaglets released in 1993

Bald Eagle
In 2007, the Bald Eagle was taken off the endangered species list - an amazing success story! By protecting its habitat we can ensure its long-term survival without the assistance of the Endangered Species Act. Click image to enlarge.

Bald Eagles are breeding once again in Central California Coast Region, thanks to a successful re-introduction project conducted by Ventana Wildlife Society, in cooperation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Game. Breeding Bald Eagles were absent for most of the last century in Central California after the devastating effects of DDT brought the bird to near extinction. Once the DDT ban paved the way for recovery, we set about reintroducing Bald Eagles in Central California. From 1986-2000, we released 70 juvenile Bald Eagles at our private wildlife sanctuary located in Big Sur, California. Our goal was establishing a self-sustaining population in Central California that would consist of at least four breeding pairs.

Due to the support of members, private foundations, and corporations, we were successful. In 1993, Ventana Wildlife Society documented the first successful Bald Eagle nest in Central California in nearly 60 years. Progress did not end there. Since that benchmark year, we have documented considerable increase in the Central California nesting population through annual surveys led by Ventana Wildlife Society co-founder Sal Lucido and a team of devoted volunteers. In 2012, we confirmed 26 occupied territories, and 33 fledged young (Table 1, Figure 1). Volunteers discovered and monitored six new Bald Eagle nests in 2012, demonstrating the northward expansion of the breeding population into Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Alameda counties.

We celebrate this impressive recovery of the population, but with the expansion come the formidable challenge of keeping up with the monitoring. Now more than ever we can use volunteer monitoring help. If you see Bald Eagles in Central California, particularly nesting birds, please call our office at 831-455-9514.

(Table 1, Figure 1).

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Click to view an expanded version of this spreadsheet

Figure 1.  Total number of Bald Eagles fledged in central California from 1993-2012

Within the California Central Coast Region, the following counties now have breeding bald eagles: Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Marin, Monterey, San Benito and San Luis Obispo (Figure 2).

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Figure 2. Overview map of Bald Eagle Nests in Central California
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Thanks to the support of our sponsors and volunteers, the bald eagle is once again thriving in the central coast.

Robert Redford wrote on March 20, 1996:
“The Ventana Wilderness [Wildlife] Society exemplifies a public/private partnership at its best. With a highly inclusive approach to their work, they involve the public as well as draw on the expertise and resources provided by both relevant government agencies and other environmental organizations. Thus, in less than a decade they have succeeded in not only introducing many to the wonders of our natural world and the challenges facing it, but have actually accomplished the restoration of wildlife and rehabilitation of habitat to address those challenges…I encourage those of you considering support of this program to look at the track record and sound management of this organization and to do what you can to help them. I believe it is a sound and important investment.”

Bald Eagle above hackbox Bald Eagle Hackbox
Bee Rock Pair Juvenile Bald Eagle  

Channel Island Bald Eagle nest camera

Bald Eagle nest in Iowa