Commonwealth Journal

April 2, 2013

There are definitely eagles in Lake Cumberland area

By BILL MARDIS, Editor Emeritus
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —  

Tommy Barnett couldn’t believe his eyes.
“I had just left a fiscal court meeting on March 26 and was driving up North Main Street when a big bird came flying over and lit in a tree,” related the 3rd District magistrate. “It was a bald eagle. I pulled my car over and started taking pictures.”
“The eagle was at the corner of North Main and Crab Orchard streets,” Barnett said. “It flew after I got out of the car, and went in the direction of Kmart (Cumberland Square shopping center off Ky. 80 bypass).”
“I hadn’t seen anything like that since a big deer ran across the street down by Dairy Queen when I was going to Somerset High School,” laughed Barnett. “This topped that one.”
John Williams, district biologist for the Southeastern Fisheries District, Kentucky Department for Fish and Wildlife Resources, said there is at least one pair of nesting eagles on Lake Cumberland, and maybe more. The eagle Barnett saw could have been one of these birds, Williams suggested.
Alan Sidwell, owner of Sidwell Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation at Dahl, said there definitely are nesting eagles on Lake Cumberland. “I saw an eagles’ nest while fishing near Wolf Creek Dam,” he recalled.
Both Williams and Sidwell said the range of bald eagles is moving in this direction and the exotic birds are making a comeback. Nesting eagles have been reported at nearby Laurel Lake.
“They hang around bodies of water ... they eat fish,” Sidwell said.
The Kentucky Department for Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) points out that after DDT was banned in 1972, and a nationwide re-introduction effort in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the number of bald eagle nesting territories in Kentucky has steadily increased.
Due to the high concentration of suitable habitat, most eagle nests are in western Kentucky.  However, reports of bald eagles during the breeding season from central and eastern Kentucky are becoming increasingly common. 
Creation of large reservoirs statewide has provided habitat that historically was not available to eagles. Large rivers, creeks and wetlands provide additional nesting opportunities, KDFWR noted.
Kentucky’s population of bald eagles met criteria set by the Southeast Bald Eagle Recovery Team for removal of the species from the federal list of threatened and endangered species. However, bald eagles still are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, according to KDFWR.