A bald eagles flies over Kinney Compost in Knox looking to feast on fish scraps that are delivered daily where Kinney Compost is made. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont’s population of bald eagles has grown to the point that the state is ready to remove them from the endangered species list.

Hunting, habitat loss and pesticide poisoning pushed the birds of prey to extinction, Vermont Public Radio reported on Monday. No eagles had nested in Vermont for decades.

Since a breeding pair took up residence in the state in 2008, the birds’ recovery has been strong and steady, said state wildlife biologist Doug Morin, the bird project leader at the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

There are now 52 breeding pairs in the broader area that produced 64 chicks last year.

“So those were all-time highs. The population just keeps growing and growing,” Morin said, calling the eagles’ recovery “a real success.”

In the early 2000s, then-Sen. Jim Jeffords secured an appropriation for the birds to be reintroduced to the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison County. Other eagles flew in from other states and nested in Vermont, the news station reported.

Margaret Fowle, a conservation biologist with Audubon Vermont, says other laws, including the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, still offer substantial protection to the birds.

“Protected from disturbance is really the biggest issue,” she said. “But seeing this steady increase over the last not-quite-20 years, really bodes well for the future of eagles.”