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America's oldest bald eagle – born in Minnesota – dies in New York

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America's oldest bald eagle, born in northern Minnesota, is being remembered for the role he played in restoring the eagle population in New York.

The eagle – who was just a chick when he was brought from Lake Puposky near Bemidji, to New York in 1977 as part of New York's Bald Eagle Restoration Program – was the oldest banded eagle in the nation at age 38, a news release says.

He was killed earlier this month after being hit by a motor vehicle, and his body found alongside a road in Henrietta, New York.

Before this, the oldest-known bald eagle lived to be 33 years old. That banded eagle was hit and killed by a vehicle last year in Wisconsin, Newsday reports.

Eagle 03142

The Minnesota-born eagle – banded as 03142 – played an important role in the restoration of the bald eagle population in New York, breeding for at least 34 years (also likely a record), the release notes. During that time, he could have fathered as many as 50 eaglets, Keith Bildstein, the director of conservation science at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in New York, told Newsweek.

"When we banded 03142 on August 5, 1977, and had no idea how very special and significant this young bald eagle would become to our nascent bald eagle restoration program," Peter Nye, a retired wildlife biologist who spearheaded New York's Bald Eagle Restoration Program, said in the release.

Nye added, "His longevity – 38 years – although ingloriously cut short by a motor vehicle, is also a national record for known life-span of a wild bald eagle. All I can say is, hats off too you 03142; job well done!"

Restoring the eagle population

In 1960, New York only had one known active bald eagle nest. By 1989, the state had 10 breeding pairs of eagles, and now there are more than 170 in New York, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says.

That's because of a national restoration effort that Minnesota took part in, sending eaglets to several different states– including New York – in the late '70s and early '80s.

Eagle 03142 was one of those birds.

At that time Minnesota had a healthy eagle population, the Star Tribune says.

Carrol Henderson, who was the longtime head of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources nongame wildlife program, told the Star Tribune, "I think those Minnesota eagles contributed some very healthy genes to help bring back our national bird."

“It is gratifying to know that our early efforts for eagle restoration have paid off so well," Henderson told the Star Tribune.

Minnesota has over 2,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the state, the DNR notes.

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