A state plane will fly over the Wisconsin River Wednesday, as part of an annual count of bald eagles. For about 20 winters in a row, a small plane has made the trip from the Petenwell Dam in the central part of the state, down along the Wisconsin River to the confluence with the Mississippi River. Onboard, a couple of observers try to count the eagles typically found near the Wisconsin's open water. DNR biologist Dan Goltz is about to make his fifth trip on the plane, "I believe we're 200-300 feet about the ground, flying low and slow."
Goltz says the number of eagles along the Wisconsin River can vary from year to year, depending on how many are perched near open-water trout streams, or off eating roadkill deer or eating dead pigs or cows that farmers have placed out on their land. But he says in general the aerial survey of eagles is finding a population on its way up, "Bald eagles are a success story, recovering very well as a species."
Goltz says it should be a good year for the public to see eagles along the Wisconsin River, as well as at other waterways and fields. Various community eagle watching days are coming up.