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2 The Outdoors: Keeping Eagles on the wing

Hawk Creek Wildlife Center is working with other groups to conserve eagles worldwide.

EAST AURORA, N.Y. — Eagles worldwide inhabit every continent but Antarctica. They have long been revered as symbols of strength and wisdom. But for all of that respect, eagles haven't always fared well at the hand of man. 

Tanya Lowe is Curator and Education Director at Hawk Creek Wildlife Center in East Aurora. She has worked with the birds for decades. 

"There are about sixty species of eagles found worldwide. Over half of them are listed as vulnerable, threatened or endangered."

That's one of the reasons why conservation programs are important in preserving the species. Hawk Creek Wildlife Center in East Aurora is home to six different species of eagle from all corners of the earth. They're a cornerstone for the center's mission of education and awareness. 

"It's a chance for folks to learn," says Lowe. "Not only about, the important role that eagles play in our ecosystem, they're apex predators, they're at the top of the food chain, but also how we can better co-exist with them, and how we can protect eagles for the future."

Hawk Creek and SIA, their partners in Oklahoma, are working to bolster the Bateleur Eagle population, a species native to Africa that has experienced a severe decline in the last decade.

"They are both a hunter and a scavenger," Lowe explains. " And so we've seen a lot of issues with the poisoning of vultures out in Africa, so the Bateleurs are falling victim to poisoning, direct poaching, also issues with electrocution and habitat loss," says Lowe. 

Credit: Terry Belke
The Martial Eagle was declared Endangered in 2020.

The urgency of the present situation is requiring a glimpse into the future. 

"By looking down the road we're also looking at having enough animals that are healthy, that are genetically varied so that when we get into a situation like we're at with the Bateleur Eagles, they're enough breeding stock in captivity that are protected to give us an option to do release programs."

Credit: Dennis Money
Bald Eagles were are almost extirpated from NY in the 1960's. They have since rebounded with the aid of conservation programs.

As an example of success, we need to look no further than our own state. NY was down to one nesting pair of bald eagles in the 1960s. Now the eagles are thriving once again, a testament to the strength we've come to revere in them. 

"Everybody working together does their little piece of the puzzle until we get that success story like we got with the bald eagles," Lowe concludes.

Hawk Creek will be celebrating eagles in May at their Wild Earth events. To find out more, click here.

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