ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – One of the questions being tackled this week during a conference being held in St. Louis is: “Where have all the eagles gone?”
It’s just one of the issues impacting the annual migration of birds that’s being discussed in exacting detail during the annual Mississippi Flyway Council Technical Section meeting at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark.
Experts from throughout the Midwest and Canada are gathered to talk about research and regulations that impact the populations of migrating geese, ducks, swans and eagles.
Frank Nelson, wetland waterfowl biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, says a much warmer than usual winter has certainly led to disappointment for eagle watchers in an around Alton — there just aren’t as many to see this year.
“When things don’t freeze up further north then they don’t have to fly as far south to find food,” Nelson tells KMOX News. “So that’s why you didn’t see the concentration of eagles in Alton as you did last year.”
In fact, he says, this winter has been about as different from last winter as possible in one year’s time, thanks to a shift in weather patterns.
“We’ve had the La Nina system both year, but there’s something else called the Arctic Oscillation which basically takes care of the atmosphere and where the Jet Stream goes,” he explains. “Last year and this year, that oscillation’s been totally different.”
It’s up to the conservation experts like those gathered here in St. Louis this week to determine how those weather changes are impacting migratory birds, and how they should react.
“The human dimensions aspect…as far as hunter recruitment and harvest rates,” Nelson says. “Are we harvesting these birds at a sustainable rate, and are these populations doing well?”
The Mississippi Flyway Council meeting runs through this week at the Ballpark Hilton.
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