CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Something rather remarkable has happened in Cleveland over the last year: bald eagles have returned to the city’s Industrial Valley for the first time since the late 1800s.
The mighty national birds, driven to the brink of extinction 50 years ago, have built a nest in the Cleveland MetroParks’ Ohio and Erie Canal Reservation, just across the river from Cuyahoga Heights.
The nest, tucked between Harvard Road and the Jennings Freeway, is now likely filled with eaglets and has come to represent the bird’s resurgence in Northeast Ohio.
“Majestic, spectacular, patriotic. They are fascinating, they are huge...it’s just a sight to behold and everybody should have a chance to see one. Luckily, now, there’s no reason why you can’t," said Cleveland MetroParks CanalWay Center Naturalist Karen Lakus.
The near-demise of the bald eagle stemmed from the bird of prey eating fish and small animals that had been tainted with pollutants, which were being dumped into U.S. waterways through the 19th and 20th centuries.
In particular, they ingested a pesticide known as DDT, which triggered widespread sterility and decimated the animal’s population.
The pesticide was banned, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act was passed and the EPA forced cities across the country to clean up their toxic waterways--all of which contributed to the bird’s comeback.
In 1979, there were only about 8 bald eagles living in the Buckeye State. Today, there are roughly 600 bald eagles in Ohio.
You can now see them in Akron’s Summit Metro Parks, Brecksville, Eastlake, Rocky River, Avon Lake, Mentor, Medina and elsewhere.
“It’s a great message to people that if you clean up your act, you clean up your water then you can bring back a species that was almost gone from this area,” said Summit Metro Parks Naturalist Nikki McClellan.
(“Call of a bald eagle” footage courtesy of Tristan Findley.)