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DTE employees recently assisted staff from the US Fisheries and Wildlife Service in evaluating and tagging baby bald eagles, known as eaglets, nesting atop a large cottonwood tree on the company’s Belle River power plant’s property in St Clair County.

Dave Best, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee working under contract for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, his wife Therese Best, volunteer Kim Best and tree climber Ariana Laporte discovered two female eaglets and one male eaglets, all about 40 days old, in the nest. The birds were weighed, checked for general health and tagged with a band around their ankle to track their movements and bald eagle population numbers, before being safely returned to their nest.

Kirsten LeForce, DTE biologist, said the nest was first discovered last year on the Belle River property, one of more than 30 DTE locations certified as Wildlife Habitat Council sites. There are also nesting eagle pairs at DTE’s Monroe, Greenwood and Fermi 2 plant properties.

Once an endangered species with fewer than 500 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states, bald eagles have made a tremendous comeback because of government protection, the banning of pesticide DDT and conservation efforts. An estimated 5,000 nest pairs and about 70,000 total bald eagles currently live in the U.S. and Canada.