Thursday, 4:30 PM
Conservationists keep eye on eagles
Mark Wilson/Globe Staff
Kurt Palmateer prepares to locate a 4-week-old bald eagle on an island in Wachusett Reservoir.
By Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
Tom French scaled his first tree hunting for a bald eagle nest in 1989, shimmying up a 70-foot white pine to find the first chick born in Massachusetts in 84 years.
Each spring since, French and other state conservationists have climbed trees that soar as high as 100 feet, tagging 266 eaglets with ankle bracelets as they track the speciesí remarkable rebound from the brink of extinction.
"Itís pretty cool sitting in the middle of a nest with the world underneath you and two 13-pound bald eagles sitting next you," said French, 46, who leads the stateís Division of Fisheries and Wildlife threatened and endangered species program.
Wednesday, conservationists banded an eaglet near Boylston, one of the Bay Stateís 25 active nests.
Kurt Palmateer, a fish culturist at a trout hatchery, donned a chest harness and scaled a 50-foot white pine on an island in the Wachusett Reservoir.
While its mother circled squawking, Palmateer lowered the 8-pound eaglet to the ground in a drawstring sack. The 4-week-old chick was weighed, tagged, and returned to its nest.
"I like climbing trees," Palmateer said after descending. "I probably started at age six and just never stopped."