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02/13/2013

Saving Mexico's national symbol

Aguila real1
The aguila real, or golden eagle, is such a powerful national symbol in Mexico that it is the centerpiece of the national flag, perched on a cactus with a snake clutched in its beak and talon.
But the avian predator is endangered. The Environmental and Natural Resources Secretariat sent out a release a few hours ago noting that there are only 81 known pairs of golden eagles in Mexico, with habitats in 13 of the nation's 31 states.
Ornithologists have identified 145 eagle nests spread in the states of Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Jalisco, Durango, Queretaro, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi and Sonora. 
So what's endangering the golden eagle? In a nutshell, powerlines. According to this Nature Conservancy website, the eagles are suffering electrocutions and collisions with power lines at an alarming rate. Along one small stretch alone near the El Uno Nature Reserve, as many as three golden eagles die a year. What can be done? Some measures are simple, such as replacing metal crossbars on power poles with wooden ones. The eagles like to nest and perch on the power poles to survey prairies in areas like Chihuahua.
 

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Tim

This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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