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Bald eagles living the good life in North Jersey
NorthJersey.com ^ | 03.05.06 | RICHARD COWEN

Posted on 03/08/2006 10:20:12 PM PST by Coleus

The bald eagle, the national bird which only a few decades ago appeared headed for extinction in the continental United States, is soaring once again.  A 40-year campaign to rescue the bald eagle from the deadly clutches of chemical poisoning has been, by all accounts, a remarkable success. The majestic bird had all but disappeared from the lower 48 states in the mid-1960s but is now flourishing -- so much so that the federal government is considering removing the bald eagle from its list of endangered species.

Nowhere has that comeback been more dramatic than in New Jersey. The annual mid-winter eagle census conducted by the state Division of Fish and Wildlife counted only one eagle nest in the state in 1970. The most recent census, completed in January, shows there are now 54.  The state reintroduced the bald eagle to the Delaware Bay area in the 1980s. Since then, bald eagles have come to nest in the Delaware Water Gap and in recent years, have moved east to Passaic County. Bald eagles now live year-round at the Wanaque Reservoir, and were spotted in the Meadowlands last winter when they came to feed on the Hackensack River during a deep freeze.

In Wanaque, "The reservoir rarely freezes, so there's always a supply of fish," said Ronald Farr, an environmental scientist with the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission. "Sometimes you'll see them dive into the water for fish, but I've also seen one swoop down and grab a duck. They're equal opportunity feeders." New Jersey's count of 54 nests statewide is up from 34 in 2002. Nationally, the federal government estimates there are more than 7,000 nesting pairs, compared with only 400 in 1967, when the bird was declared an endangered species. Farr recalled the first time he saw a bald eagle at the Wanaque Reservoir a few years ago. "Actually it wasn't one; it was three of them," he said. "I was driving around the reservoir, came around a bend and there were three of them in the trees, a mother and two fledglings. That's not something I'll ever forget."

Since then, Farr says it's not unusual to see several bald eagles in a day. "One day last summer I saw seven," he said. "You'll see them swoop down over the water and take a fish."

Decimated by DDT

Bald eagles are at the top of the food chain, with no known predator -- except for man, whose use of the pesticide DDT nearly wiped them out. Once DDT got into the food chain, mainly through runoff into the rivers and streams and into fish, it caused the bald eagles' eggs to soften. Generations of bald eagles were never hatched. The federal government banned DDT in 1972. A year later, President Richard M. Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act, a historic bill which severely restricted commercial land development in favor of the preservation of habitat for wildlife. The bald eagle was placed at the top of the list of endangered species.

Saving the bald eagle not only required the elimination of DDT, but also meant that states would have reintroduce the bird to the wild once the toxic effects of pollution had been minimized. In 1982, New Jersey purchased 60 baby eagles from Canada, and then erected several so-called "hacking" towers in the Delaware Bay region to raise the birds. The towers were cages about 30 feet tall that allowed the birds to gaze out over an area, as if they were being raised in a nest. Mick Valent, a biologist with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, was among the scientists who climbed the towers and fed the birds through a trap door. Scientists then released the birds into the wild when they were old enough to fend for themselves.

Eagles have the uncanny ability to remember exactly where they were born, and to return to that spot when they are mature and ready to mate. It's a process known as "imprinting." A bald eagle won't sprout the distinctive white head and tail until it is about 4 years old and ready to mate. At that time, it will fly back to the place where it was born, find a mate and build a nest, scientists say. With this knowledge, scientists were confident they could reintroduce the bald eagle to New Jersey and create a permanent habitat.

Impressive comeback

The return of the bird with the 8-foot wingspan has been so impressive that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last month revived a proposal to remove it from the list of endangered species. Officially, the bird had been downgraded from "endangered" to merely "threatened" in 1995, and the population has continued to grow since then. Were the bird to be dropped from the list, it would still enjoy federal protection under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which makes it a felony crime for anyone to kill, trap, trade, sell or even disturb a bald eagle or its nest. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has drafted a new definition of "disturb" that includes any action which would interfere with the breeding, feeding or nesting pattern.

Chris Tollefson, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said delisting the bald eagle would allow the states to take primary responsibility for protecting them, but the federal government would continue to monitor the birds for five years. But some environmental groups don't trust the timing of the move, and are wary of a bill in Congress that would overhaul the Endangered Species Act for the first time since 1973. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., would require the government to compensate property owners if steps to protect endangered species thwart development plans, and would prevent government from designating certain areas as "critical habitat," which severely limits development.

The House of Representatives adopted the bill in September, 229-193. It is now before the Senate. Larry Schweiger, the president of the National Wildlife Federation, said the bald eagle is a good example of why the Endangered Species Act should be left alone. "We cannot commemorate this remarkable comeback without acknowledging the law that helped us achieve it," he said. "At the very hour that some in Congress are poised to weaken the Endangered Species Act, we are reminded that its safeguards were vital in charting the path of recovery for the bald eagle and other imperiled wildlife."

The New Jersey Audubon Society has called upon Governor Corzine to designate areas of the state as critical habitat for bald eagles and other endangered species. Developers in an area designated as critical habitat must design their projects so they don't negatively impact endangered species."This isn't about whether there will be development or no development," said Eric Stiles, vice president of conservation for the New Jersey Audubon Society. "It's about what kind of world we want for ourselves and for our children. I've taken my 7-year-old daughter for hikes in New Jersey and she's seen a bald eagle. I think most people would want that opportunity for their children as well."  The federal government will receive comment on its proposal to delist the bald eagle through May 17.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: New Jersey
KEYWORDS: animalrights; baldeagle; baldeagles; birds; ddt; endangeredspecies; environment; esa; nationalbird; pesticides
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I thought the shells of eagle eggs thinned because of a low calcium diet.

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RETHINKING NUCLEAR POWER
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DDT revisited
The Truth About Science
Global warming fight going underground?

1 posted on 03/08/2006 10:20:16 PM PST by Coleus
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To: Coleus
The Eagles were in trouble until Tony and his crew sold them protection
2 posted on 03/08/2006 10:24:31 PM PST by bybybill (If the Rats win, we are doomed)
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To: Coleus

Oh, whoops. You said bald eagle, not bald ass.

3 posted on 03/08/2006 10:27:50 PM PST by fieldmarshaldj (Cheney X -- Destroying the Liberal Democrat Traitors By Any Means Necessary -- Ya Dig ? Sho 'Nuff.)
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To: Coleus

Animals eating animals... PETA would be appalled.


4 posted on 03/08/2006 10:34:03 PM PST by coconutt2000 (NO MORE PEACE FOR OIL!!! DOWN WITH TYRANTS, TERRORISTS, AND TIMIDCRATS!!!! (3-T's For World Peace))
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To: Coleus; Owl_Eagle
Bald eagles living the good life in North Jersey

"BADA-BING, baby!"

5 posted on 03/08/2006 11:08:26 PM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: Coleus

It'll be a different story after the Eagles are busted for racketeering, money laundering, and loan sharking.


6 posted on 03/09/2006 1:28:52 AM PST by Jack Hammer
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To: Coleus

Lots of bald eagles in the Puget Sound region. See them flying in downtown Seattle every once in awhile.


7 posted on 03/09/2006 1:42:04 AM PST by Clemenza (Dick Cheney is a big middle finger to the "other directed" Sheeple. My kind of guy!)
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To: Coleus
I just have to brag. These pictures are from next to my house. A typical winter day, but with clear skies.


8 posted on 03/09/2006 2:33:25 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Coleus

We have several pair of nesting eagles in our neighborhood.

They'll swoop down into the lake and come out with a fish...they're beautiful creatures to watch.


9 posted on 03/09/2006 2:59:47 AM PST by dawn53
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To: thackney

You have every right to brag. Great pictures. We have several of them hanging out on the north end of Rush Lake, not close enough for pictures. They do take your breath away when there are several of them floating on the air currents overhead. People dump unwanted cats down at our end, between the eagles and the coyotes, they don't last long.


10 posted on 03/09/2006 3:07:36 AM PST by RushLake (The Democratic party--Mary Jo Kopechne is unavailable for comment.)
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To: thackney

Very nice pictures.

Thanks


11 posted on 03/09/2006 3:14:33 AM PST by PeteB570 (Guns, what real men want for Christmas)
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To: thackney

Beautiful pictures! Thank you for posting them.


12 posted on 03/09/2006 3:16:25 AM PST by ZinGirl
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To: RushLake
We have several of them hanging out on the north end of Rush Lake

There were a few earlier this winter hanging out on the Racoon River.

Last year there were at least 24 baldies here that stayed at least a month.They stayed late enough in Iowa that I got to see at least one aerial mating or mock aerial combat routine where one baidie will swoop on another and the lower flips over, talons up. Beautiful show. Better than watching the Thunderbirds and not quite so loud.

13 posted on 03/09/2006 3:17:41 AM PST by woofer (It is not necessary to understand things in order to argue about them.)
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To: Jack Hammer

LOL!


14 posted on 03/09/2006 3:20:40 AM PST by Lazamataz (We beat the Soviet Union, then we became them.)
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To: thackney

I have only one thing to say:

Shake-N-Bake!

Just kiddin. Have a pair livin near me. But about ten years ago, saw a pair mating on the Olympic peninsula. They would fly up to about 600 feet, clasp together, and just fall. Then, when they were only about 100 feet from the ground, they'd separate and fly apart.

Stunning.


15 posted on 03/09/2006 3:22:08 AM PST by djf (I'm not Islamophobic. But I am bombophobic! If that's the same, freakin deal with it!)
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To: woofer
Better than watching the Thunderbirds and not quite so loud.

Indeed!

16 posted on 03/09/2006 3:26:01 AM PST by RushLake (The Democratic party--Mary Jo Kopechne is unavailable for comment.)
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To: Coleus

EVERY type of wildlife has been on the rebound in the northeast over the years. As a kid in the NYC area, you only very rarely saw turkeys, red-tailed hawks, great blue herons -- even seeing a deer was cause for excitement. Now...

Saw my first bear in the Catskills last summer, first bald eagle the year before that.


17 posted on 03/09/2006 3:46:25 AM PST by Jhensy
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To: Coleus

We have many here at the local landfill in fact their are walking tours around the landfill for birdwatchers.They are beautiful to watch.


18 posted on 03/09/2006 3:56:59 AM PST by bikerman
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To: Coleus

The 500,000,000 dead from malaria would like to thank Rachel Carson and the rest of the Green Brigade for banning DDT.


19 posted on 03/09/2006 4:14:03 AM PST by metesky ("Brethren, leave us go amongst them." Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnston Clayton - Ward Bond- The Searchers)
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To: Coleus; martin_fierro
Eagles have the uncanny ability to remember exactly where they were born, and to return to that spot

What exit?


20 posted on 03/09/2006 6:27:20 AM PST by NativeNewYorker (Freepin' Jew Boy)
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To: NativeNewYorker; Exit148; Calpernia; Clemenza

LOL, they can't use the parkway anymore because they didn't pay their EZ Pass Bill!


21 posted on 03/09/2006 9:09:29 AM PST by Coleus (What were Ted Kennedy & his nephew doing on Good Friday, 1991? Getting drunk and raping women)
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To: HairOfTheDog

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1592930/posts?page=8#8


22 posted on 03/09/2006 10:09:21 AM PST by Calpernia (Breederville.com)
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To: bikerman

I did the walking tour through the Meadowlands dump one day.

I stupidly did it during my lunch.

I went back to work not realizing I stunk.

I got sent home.

::shrugs::


23 posted on 03/09/2006 10:12:33 AM PST by Calpernia (Breederville.com)
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To: NativeNewYorker

THAT was funny!


24 posted on 03/09/2006 10:13:17 AM PST by Calpernia (Breederville.com)
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To: thackney
Very, very nice....

Especially like the close-up.

I saw 4 or 5 Bald Eagles the other evening....here on the N.E. prairie of Okla.

25 posted on 03/09/2006 10:13:29 AM PST by Osage Orange (Molon Labe)
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To: thackney; Calpernia

Fabulous pictures!


26 posted on 03/09/2006 10:32:16 AM PST by HairOfTheDog (Hobbit Hole knives for soldiers! www.freeper.the-hobbit-hole.net)
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To: thackney

Wow! Beautiful pics!


27 posted on 03/09/2006 10:36:50 AM PST by Corin Stormhands (Edgar we hardly knew ye...)
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To: thackney
Awesome pictures! The kids and I stumbled onto a website a few years back that had a camera trained on the nest of a pair of bald eagles. We were able to see the eggs when they were laid, watch them as the parents took turns sitting on them, then as they hatched, one at a time. One of the eggs hatched a day before the other one, and that one gobbled up the second one's food, for the most part, before the little one could get it. As a result, the second one didn't survive.

Just after that, we went to a place out in Central MA where a man takes in injured birds, specifically raptors, nurses them to health, then releases them back into the wild. He had two pet eagles, one bald and one golden, both with injuries that kept them from flying. We were just amazed at how hugh they actually were!

He said that he watches several bald eagle nests in the area, and when he sees that there are two eggs, he waits for the birds to leave, then climbs up, takes one of the eggs, and incubates it at his place. When it hatches, he feeds it with the use of an Eagle puppet so that it never sees him. When it is nice and strong, he takes it back to its nest. He said that he has NEVER seen a chick rejected by the parents after it mysteriously shows up in the nest. The kids thought that was just SO cool!

28 posted on 03/09/2006 12:11:51 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: SuziQ; All

Thanks,

Those pictures are all from within 600 feet of my house. The eagles are typical for a winter day, the sky was not.

We usually have 1 to 4 dozen hanging around. When the snow melts they spread out more through the valley of Eagle River. Typically there is a couple hundred in the valley, IIRC.


29 posted on 03/09/2006 12:52:31 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney

Awsome photos, all I can say is there must be a lot of food around to have that many together.


30 posted on 03/09/2006 1:14:55 PM PST by united1000 (An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile - hoping it will eat him last. - Sir Winston Churchill)
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To: united1000

Well, nobody close by lets outside their small dogs or cats...


31 posted on 03/09/2006 1:26:57 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: GreenFreeper


32 posted on 03/10/2006 10:01:42 PM PST by Coleus (What were Ted Kennedy & his nephew doing on Good Friday, 1991? Getting drunk and raping women)
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To: Huck; Pharmboy
Hi All-

Thought you might be interested in these fantastic pictures of Bald Eagles here in New Jersey...

~ Blue Jays ~

33 posted on 03/10/2006 10:05:00 PM PST by Blue Jays (Rock Hard, Ride Free)
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To: thackney
Yeah...well...OK, but you're 8,465 miles from the Short Hills Mall.

( ;-D

34 posted on 03/11/2006 3:21:48 AM PST by Pharmboy (The stone age didn't end because they ran out of stones.)
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To: Blue Jays

New Jersey?!?!?

I took those pictures in the Last Frontier.

We've got another bright clear day up here. I just walked out in the driveway and counted 14 bald eagels a little after 8 am. If I get my morning chores done I'll take some more pictures today and post them this afternoon.


35 posted on 03/11/2006 9:20:31 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney

eagels=eagles

sigh....


36 posted on 03/11/2006 9:21:02 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney; Pharmboy; Huck
Hi All-

Oops, my bad! I was reading too quickly and believed these were bald eagles photographed in the northern part of New Jersey, which is experiencing big growth in the variety of animals and birds. Glad to see there are so many of these magnificent birds up in Alaska these days...

That will teach me to post when I up awake WAY past a decent bedtime!

~ Blue Jays ~

37 posted on 03/11/2006 10:36:50 AM PST by Blue Jays (Rock Hard, Ride Free)
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To: blam; Carry_Okie; Chanticleer; ClearCase_guy; cogitator; CollegeRepublican; ...
ECO-PING

FReepmail me to be added or removed to the ECO-PING list!

Great Pictures and story...

38 posted on 03/11/2006 11:42:59 AM PST by GreenFreeper (Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress)
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To: thackney

I'll never forget seeing bald eagles up close and personal in Alaska, on a fishing trip on the river outside of Anchorage. Just amazing creatures! And the sound they make when they smack the water when they dive will startle anyone, those guys are noisy!

Alaska is truly an amazing place, I'm jealous...a little, I have a brother who lives up there, and I can visit. :)

If you have'nt been there, GO. You will NOT regret it. And I highly recommend a cruise up to the glaciers - seeing whales and orcas in the wild is something you'll never forget - especially when a large whale breaches near your puny boat.


39 posted on 03/11/2006 11:50:13 AM PST by ByDesign
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To: GreenFreeper

Awesome pics...great thread.


40 posted on 03/11/2006 11:50:35 AM PST by cyborg (I just love that man.)
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To: ByDesign; Blue Jays; Pharmboy; united1000; SuziQ; Corin Stormhands; HairOfTheDog; Osage Orange; ...
Clear days mean cold days during winter. It was 8°F a little after 10 am. The camera quit focusing so I only kept a few. Most of them were too far away this morning.


41 posted on 03/11/2006 12:00:41 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney
What kind of a camera are you using? Tripod? Telephoto? The pictures are breath taking.

A friend of mine who is a pilot told me the best days to fly airplanes are cold clear days. I surmise the eagle would have much the same opinion, but I'm neither a pilot or an eagle.

42 posted on 03/11/2006 1:21:21 PM PST by RushLake (The Democratic party--Mary Jo Kopechne is unavailable for comment.)
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To: RushLake
A Kodak DX7590, 5 mega pixels. Nothing fancy. We bought it last year because it has a 10x optical zoom. The pictures I post here are cropped a little and greatly reduced in size. The reasons the pictures turn out so well, most of them I am less than 100 feet from the eagle.

I don't use a tripod or spend time with all the adjustments on the camera. Just point, try to quit shaking from the cold then click.
43 posted on 03/11/2006 1:35:54 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney
Those pics are neat. Your eagles look strangely similar to this fella 8>). This was in Bozeman, MT. I'm not much of a photographer unfortunately but was lucky to get close.


44 posted on 03/11/2006 2:08:02 PM PST by Horatio Gates (Do I seem jaded?)
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To: thackney
Most excellent, friend.

I love the look on their faces...like "just try and ef with me." LOL!

A perfect symbol for our incredible country, dontcha think?

45 posted on 03/11/2006 2:32:48 PM PST by Pharmboy (The stone age didn't end because they ran out of stones.)
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To: thackney
Fabulous! Thanks for sharing them with us :~D

We have a couple near our beach house, only our camera is not nearly as high power as yours, and we took these on a much greyer day. These are sitting on our dock railing.


46 posted on 03/11/2006 2:58:36 PM PST by HairOfTheDog (Hobbit Hole knives for soldiers! www.freeper.the-hobbit-hole.net)
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To: HairOfTheDog

My first set was a little greyer day. I did some minor color adjustments on them. This morning set was only cropped and re-sized.

We had to get a better zoom living up here. Trips through Denali National Forest and just driving around give lots of opportunity for wildlife photos. But that camera was only $450.


47 posted on 03/11/2006 3:12:06 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney

My digital now is still only a 3.2 megapixel, and it really loses quality when we zoom, it's not good for that at all. My encounter with a black bear last year all I got was a little blurry black smudge. 'course my horse was dancing around too while I was trying to focus...


48 posted on 03/11/2006 3:15:38 PM PST by HairOfTheDog (Hobbit Hole knives for soldiers! www.freeper.the-hobbit-hole.net)
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To: HairOfTheDog
That is basically what we were using before, with a 3X. That one is an olympus and is still better for low light. We found for outdoor wildlife, the 10X makes the real difference.

After all, just how close do want to be to these guys?


49 posted on 03/11/2006 3:28:02 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney

Very very cool :~D


50 posted on 03/11/2006 3:28:51 PM PST by HairOfTheDog (Hobbit Hole knives for soldiers! www.freeper.the-hobbit-hole.net)
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