Officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency are responding to local concerns regarding the removal of a tree at a new wildlife management work base in Monroe County, after receiving questions about how this might affect the bald eagles that were using this tree as a place to perch.
According to David Whitehead, Wildlife manager of Tellico Lake and South Cherokee WMAs, the tree in question was not a bald eagle nest tree nor did it have any sign of past bald eagle nesting activity. Mr. Whitehead said, “Leaving the tree would have caused a hazard to the employees working at the facility and also to any structure we will eventually build at the site. We believe the birds will quickly adjust to find another tree near-by.”
TWRA recently began the site preparation for a new Tellico Lake WMA Workbase. The new site is located at the Toqua boat ramp in Monroe County. This location was approved through negotiations with the Tellico Reservoir Development Agency and Tennessee Valley Authority.
Preparation of the building site required clearing the property of vegetation, including a large dead oak tree that bald eagles periodically used as a perch site. Agency biologists report that the distinction between a nest tree and a tree simply used as a perch is important when considering bald eagle life habits. Bald eagle pairs will return and use nest trees for many years, however, individual bald eagles incorporate many different perch trees into their territories. Also, because bald eagles choose perch trees that are often dead or dying they are adapted to quickly find new perches as dead trees fall.
“There are four other large oaks remaining on the property. Three are living and one is dead and void of leaves. They are closer to the lake and farther away from the highway, so hopefully the eagles will begin to use them as a perch," Mr. Whitehead said.
For more information on bald eagles in Tennessee visit http://www.tnwatchablewildlife.org/files/eagle_facts_january13.pdf.