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Bald eagles back from the brink

CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- Bald eagles are making a comeback in the Land of Lincoln.
CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- Bald eagles are making a comeback in the Land of Lincoln. A few years ago, they were tough to spot. Now, there are reports of sightings all over the area. As WCIA-3's Steve Staeger explains, the rough winter might actually be helping.

"When you look up in the sky and you see that great, big, black bird with that white tail and that white head, pretty much everybody knows what that bird is."

That sight is becoming more common in Illinois. Bald eagles are soaring back. A decade ago, they were an endangered species.

"Bald eagle recovery in the United States, to me, is a great American conservation success story."

Tom Clay is the director of the Illinois Audubon Society. Years ago, it was tough to spot a single eagle in our state. Now, Illinois has become the second most-popular winter spot for the birds.

"We've cleaned up our act regarding chemical use that we use in pesticides and we continue to protect more land and, in essence, if you build it, they will come. And, in this case, what we're building is, we're re-establishing native Illinois' habitats that were here and they're increasing also."

Clay says the eagles like to nest around food sources and with the harsh winter, it means any open water where they can fish. This confirmed eagle's nest was spotted on Lake Springfield.
Friends at the Oakland Independent sent us photos of an eagle they've been watching.

"I think when people see it, I like to think a part of what they're excited about is to say, we did this because of how we act. We've made it possible for these birds to come back and begin to thrive again."

So, grab a pair of binoculars and maybe you can experience that excitement too. Eagles aren't the only wildlife making a comeback in Illinois. Experts say wolves are too and the IDNR has had several sightings.
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