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Great Lakes Article:

Ohio preserve closes for couple of months to protect eagles
Associated Press

SANDUSKY -- A nature preserve that opened along Lake Erie five months ago is going into hibernation to protect its bald eagles during their nesting season.

Park officials hope keeping people off the 73-acre Community Foundation Preserve at Eagle Point will increase birds' chances of hatching live young and also assure that the park district complies with laws protecting bald eagles.

The site could remain closed for several months.

"We're playing it safe," said Jonathan Granville, director of Erie MetroParks, which owns the preserve.

The agency bought the preserve last year for $1.2 million and began allowing visitors in August.

Mark Shieldcastle, head biologist at the Crane Creek Wildlife Research Station in Ottawa County, said at least one pair of eagles is expected to nest on the property this year. The site has been home to several eagles nests over the last dozen years, Shieldcastle said. Wildlife officials believe the current pair is an older male and a young female who is 4 or 5 years old.

Ohio's nesting season typically runs from February through June.

Eagles keep the eggs and newborn eaglets warm by staying on the nest, especially during the cold winter months.

"Eagles do not tolerate human activity around their nests during the nesting season," Shieldcastle said. "Anytime you have people on the ground, that causes the birds to either get up or off the nests."

Granville said the park district will probably close the preserve each year during the nesting season.

"I don't think it's going to affect too many people, especially in the wintertime," he said.

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