Nature center acquires precarious eagle nest
Spielman Associate Editor
McGregor, Minn. — An eagle’s nest, formerly nestled high in a
dead white pine tree north of McGregor in Aitkin County, is now
displayed at the Long Lake Conservation Center near Palisade. The
effort to move the nest occurred about a week ago.
But obtaining permission to move the federally protected nest
began long ago, according to Todd Roggenkamp, executive director of
Roggenkamp said the eagle’s nest had been a longtime fixture in
the white pine on private land near Big Sandy Lake. But the tree
had died, and the landowner worried it eventually might fall on one
of the trailer homes at the seasonal camping area that surrounded
the 100-foot pine, said Minnesota Conservation Officer Brent
“It was dead to the point that it was rotting on the bottom,”
So Speldrich helped the landowner begin the process of getting
permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take down the
tree. That was more than a year ago, Speldrich said.
Just a couple weeks ago, Speldrich learned the permit had been
granted and the tree could be taken down. That’s when he had a
thought: How about displaying the nest at the learning center?
“Everything worked out well,” he said. “The learning center was
able to get a permit to possess the nest.”
Roggenkamp said that as an educational facility, the center
already had a permit to display mounted animal species that are
protected by law. He said the permit had to be amended to allow the
center to take in the eagle’s nest.
Removing the nest from the tree required two trucks, which
extended their buckets nearly to full capacity once the tree limbs
were removed, Roggenkamp said. He estimates the nest, which is
about 31/2 feet in diameter, was about 90 feet high in the pine.
The nest was loaded on a trailer and slowly transported – to avoid
damage to the nest – to the learning center.
Speldrich said he believes USFWS officials made at least one
site visit to the nest. When the landowner first requested the tree
be taken down, the eagles were present, Speldrich said. They hadn’t
yet returned this year when the nest was removed. Regarding the
process for obtaining a permit, “there were a lot of hoops to jump
through,” he said.
Speldrich said he believes the eagles have been nesting in the
area for a number of years, in the tree that was recently felled,
and before that in another white pine.
“My best recollection is that they’ve been in this tree (the
tree recently cut down) for about five to seven years,” he said.
“Before that, they were in another big white pine for 10 to 15
years, but that tree blew over in a storm.”
Speldrich said there are a couple other tall white pines within
100 yards of the most recent nesting site, and suspects the eagles
may end up using one of them this season.