Welcome to Tschache Pool – one of the refuge’s most popular wildlife viewing areas! Tschache Pool also holds the story of Montezuma’s bald eagle reintroduction project.
Most of us know about the near demise of our nation’s symbol, the bald eagle. Pesticides, primarily DDT, absorbed by eagles through their food, would concentrate in their body tissues, leading to unsuccessful egg laying, and consequently, the diminishing the production of young eagles. The bald eagle population across America drastically declined between the 1950s and 1960, leading the federal government to declare the bald eagle as endangered.
In 1976, a program designed to reestablish nesting bald eagles in New York was undertaken here at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, led by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The Montezuma program was the first of its kind in North America. Using a falconry technique called hacking, young eagles obtained from other states in the nation were placed in a cage atop a high tower along Clark’s Ridge, just above this pool. The young eagles were fed carp and small mammals until their instincts kicked in and they were ready to fly. The feeding was done so that the eagles would not see humans, associate us with food, or lose their fear of us.
From 1976 to 1980, 23 bald eagles were released at the Montezuma Refuge through this hacking program. In 1981, the project was moved to Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area, near the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge in Western New York.
1987 dawned the return of a symbol to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge! A local farmer reported seeing a large nest in an isolated area on the refuge. A field inspection of the site proved not only that the farmer was right, but that this was a bald eagle nest, with two 11-week old hatchlings inside! An additional surprise came when Biologists observed a trio, rather than a pair, of eagles tending the nest. The two males were identified by their tags as part of the hacking program. The female was unmarked; we don’t know where she came from.
The refuge claims six other active bald eagle nests today!
The bald eagle was taken off of the threatened & endangered species list in 2007, but is protected today by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Stop in at the Visitor Center for more information on viewing bald eagles.