Thursday, February 05, 2009

Eagle's comeback spurs tourism in Dubuque

Once endangered as a result of pesticide use, bald eagles are off the federal endangered species list, but are still rare enough that areas where they congregate attract a number of tourists hoping to spot the national bird in the wild. The Environment Report's Shawn Allee went to Dubuque, Iowa's Eagle Watch to witness eagle tourism firsthand.

Dubuque's convention center hosts booths selling eagle-related items, from photographs to bobble-heads. The main attraction is not inside, but at the Mississippi River, where the town's dam provides easy food for the birds, stunning the fish as they pass through. Locals say they can tell that today's eagle population is much healthier than it has been. “Twenty years ago, we read about eagles, we heard about eagles but we never ever saw one," photographer Robert Eichman told Allee. But, now, during the winter, "there may be 400 to 500 eagles roosting on the bluffs on either side of the river.” (Listen to the story; read the transcript)

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