Researchers have found elevated levels of mercury in the feathers and blood of bald eagle chicks in the state’s Catskill Park.
The study, released earlier this week by the Biodiversity Research Institute in Maine, has caused some concern, mainly because of what it could mean for the future of bald eagles in the state. From a New York Times story:
“The levels are close to those associated with reproductive problems in common loons and bald eagles elsewhere in the Northeast, although the New York and national populations of bald eagles have been growing strongly in recent years.”
But those involved in the study recognize more research is needed.
“Findings from this research effort provide evidence that the Catskill region is a “biological mercury hotspot” and support the need for a more comprehensive mercury monitoring and assement plan.”
The primary sources of the contaminant are coal-fired power plants, waste incinerators and other smokestack industries.
As The Nature Conservancy points out in its announcement about the eagle study:
” . . . no ecosystem in the eastern United States is free of the effects of air pollution.”
The photo by TJN Photographer Frank Becerra shows a bald eagle above Muscoot Reservoir in Somers in 2007.