WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — The state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has documented more than 70 active bald eagle nests throughout Massachusetts this spring, indicators that the population continues to grow.
MassWildlife has seen a dramatic uptick in newly documented eagle nests and has confirmed nine new nests in Fitchburg, Wenham, Concord, Rutland, Wareham, Medford, Northampton, Hudson, and Barnstable.
The new Barnstable nest marks the first nest with eggs on Cape Cod in 115 years; the last was in Sandwich in 1905.
Eagles have been sighted along the Hoosic River and nesting pairs around Cheshire Reservoir and Pontoosuc Lake.
As the eagle population continues to grow, new challenges emerge as pairs try to establish new territories. For instance, this spring marked the first documented case of eagles nesting on Martha's Vineyard. An eagle pair took over an osprey nest and were incubating eggs when the ospreys returned from their wintering grounds. The osprey pair that most likely built the nest harassed the incubating eagle who would flip upside down with its talons in the air in defense.
Eventually the eagle cracked the eggs doing this, and this historic nesting attempt failed.
Two other eagle nests on the mainland have also failed as a result of an intruding eagle invading the territory and killing the chicks in the nest. Although difficult for observers to witness, these events are all signs of a thriving eagle population in Massachusetts.
On the upside, more and more people across the commonwealth are experiencing the thrill of seeing eagles in their own neighborhoods as these birds continue to expand their range to urban and suburban landscapes. Because of successful conservation measures, the status of the bald eagle recently improved from threatened to special concern on the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act list.
In related news, New Hampshire confirmed a new state record for its oldest bald eagle, a bird that hatched in Massachusetts. This eagle, identified by a gold leg band coded "W84," was photographed this spring in New Hampshire. Banding records indicate this 23-year-old male hatched at the Quabbin Reservoir in Ware in 1997 and it had been recorded nesting in New Hampshire between 2007 and 2014. The previous New Hampshire record holder was a 19-year-old bird that had also hatched in Massachusetts.
It is safe to say the eagle reintroduction program that MassWildlife conducted in the 1980s has not only reaped benefits in Massachusetts, but throughout New England.
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DA Clears Trooper in Fatal Hancock Shooting
By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
District Attorney Timothy Shugrue says the results of an autopsy by the medical examiner will not change his findings, which are based on the video and witnesses. With him are State Police Lts. Chris Bruno and Ryan Dickinson and First Assistant District Attorney Marianne Shelvey.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — District Attorney Timothy Shugrue has determined that State Police Trooper William Munch acted in compliance during what is being described as a "suicide by cop" earlier this month.
On Sept. 9, 64-year-old Phillip Henault reportedly placed a fictitious 911 call about an ongoing violent assault. Body-camera footage from the trooper shows the man advancing on him with two knives before being shot twice and collapsing in the street in front of his Richmond Road residence.
"Mr. Henault was actively using deadly force against law enforcement. There were no other objectively reasonable means that the trooper could have employed at the time in order to effectively protect himself and anyone that was in the home or the public. By virtue of his duties as a police officer, the trooper did not have the obligation to run away from Mr. Henault," Shugrue said during a press conference on Friday.
"Mr. Henault posed an active threat to the trooper and to the public. The trooper had a duty to arrest Mr. Henault who was engaged in various felonies. His arm was an active threat."
The DA determined that Munch's decision to fire his weapon at Henault under the circumstances was a "lawful and reasonable exercise of self-defense and defense of others" compliance with the policies of the State Police and commonwealth law, clearing the trooper of criminal charges and closing the investigation.
The lethal force was labeled as an "unavoidable last resort."
A preliminary autopsy determined the unofficial cause of death was two gunshot wounds to the torso with contributing factors of wounds to the wrists that were inflicted by Heneault. The final report from the medical examiner has not been issued.
Fixed in front of the Pittsfield Police Station, the statue honors thirteen former K9s dating back to 1976. Blue roses were placed for each pup next to the bronze Shepard that sits proudly on top.
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