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For Release: Thursday, January 3, 2013

DEC Recognizes Efforts of Bald Eagle Volunteer

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Region 8 Director Paul D'Amato today recognized Tom Rauber of Dansville for his countless hours of service spanning decades that contributed to the highly successful restoration of New York State's bald eagle population. In 1965, Rauber discovered what is believed to have been the last known bald eagle nest in New York State, located at the south end of Hemlock Lake, in Springwater, Livingston County. The pair of eagles had failed to hatch a single egg, despite several years of trying because DDT poisoning weakened their eggshells, which were then broken during incubation.

Rauber was approached by DEC in the early 1970s to help initiate New York State's bald eagle recovery efforts. This was the beginning of a long and successful partnership that continued to thrive over time. By 1989, New York's bald eagle restoration program achieved its goal of establishing 10 breeding pairs in the state. In 2010, there were 220 breeding pairs across the state.

"Tom's contribution to re-establishing the presence of America's symbol in New York State was unique and it is hard to envision the restoration project's success, or perhaps even happening at all, without Tom," said Regional Director Paul D'Amato. "When we remember that environmental protection was not his chosen career, but rather a passion, the time he devoted and the commitment he made on behalf of this species are truly remarkable."

Finger Lakes Museum board president John Adamski said, "In my view, the restoration of the bald eagle is the most significant wildlife conservation story in American History. And it was pioneered right here in New York State."

Next summer, the museum plans to open an exhibit at its Discovery Campus in Branchport, entitled "From the Brink of Extinction," which will feature two live bald eagles that are now in the DEC's possession. Both are rehabilitated birds that are incapable of survival in the wild.

The exhibit will trace the history of that last remaining pair of eagles after DDT was banned and illustrate the innovative management techniques that DEC used to restore a viable eagle population not only in the state but in other parts of the nation as well.

"Thanks to the leadership of New York State's Environmental Conservation Department, the bald eagle has soared to new heights in New York," said Jim Howe, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Central & Western New York. "Now it's up to all of us to make sure we protect the land and water the eagle needs to survive."

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