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Bald eagles thriving in Georgia: surging population measured by helicopter in survey

The majestic bird and symbol of the nation is enjoying a robust nesting year in the state, with the number of young eagles trending "above average" based on an annual nest survey conducted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR).

GDNR nest survey data suggests that Georgia has maintained over 200 nest territories a year since 2015. That's an incredible rebound from the 1970s when the bald eagle population was decimated by the use of the pesticide, DDT, which destroyed eagle eggs.

Using helicopters to monitor eagle nesting, GDNR found that the coastal area -- epicenter for Georgia's nesting eagles -- enjoyed an 81 percent successful nesting rate, above average compared to recent years. Other areas of the state surveyed recorded lower success rates, but overall, the state saw the eagle nesting rate continue to grow.

According to GDNR, Georgia had no known successful nests during most of the 1970s. In 1981, one successful nest was discovered in the state. By the turn of the century, the count had increased to 48 successful nests recorded by GDNR, the agency's data shows.

In addition to a U.S. ban on DDT use in 1972, eagle population gains have been adied by habitat improvements after enactment of the federal Clean Water and Clean Air acts, protection through the Endangered Species Act, increased public awareness, restoration of local populations through release programs, and forest regrowth.

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