BRADENTON - They're here.
No, not the ghosts who communicated with the little girl in the 1982 film "Poltergeist," but the resident bald eagles at Robinson Preserve.
The return of the eagles is big news to some folks, including Melissa Cain Nell, the manager of the Volunteer/Education Division of the Natural Resources Department. They are "once again preparing to raise a family," she wrote in a press release.
Of course, that will mean some changes to paddle routes. Still, Nell said, "Visitors will have a wonderful opportunity to see the eagles from the trail while still enjoying a number of the preserve's features."
Beginning Friday, Sept. 25, a portion of the paddle blueway in the preserve will be detoured around the eagle nest. Paddlers can still launch from within the preserve and enjoy paddling throughout the location. The "eagle detour" will occur along the western portion of the blueway near the tidal lake.
Access to the Manatee River in the north will be open, from the west via Perico Bayou, and the preserve can be accessed from the south via Palma Sola Bay. Maps detailing the new detour will be available at the county's Web site. Visitors exploring the location by land are also asked to remain on the marked trails at all times in order to avoid disturbing the birds and other resident wildlife.
The bald eagle breeding season in Florida goes from September through June, with the most critical times for protection being the first few months during courtship, nest-building and egg incubation. If the eagles are disturbed during this time, the birds may abandon the nest.
The bald eagle is protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668d, 54 Stat. 250), and any individual in violation of this act can be fined up to $100,000. In order to protect the eagles, county staff will set up the detour and maintain it up until the time the eaglets have fledged, or left the nest. That is expected to be in spring 2010.
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