Mark Madison speaks with NCTC Director Jay Slack and Steve Chase, chief of NCTC's Division of Education Outreach, about the NCTC Eagle Cam, Part One
MARK MADISON: Hi, this is Mark Madison, and it's April 4th, 2011. We're at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia doing a Podcast with Jay Slack, who is the Director here at NCTC and Steve Chase, who is Chief of our Division of Education and Outreach and they're going to tell us a little about the history of the Eagle-Cam we have here on campus.
And why don't we start with you, Steve, why don't you tell us when the Eagle-Cam went up and what we've seen in the last seven years?
STEVE CHASE: Well, this is our seventh year much having eagles here at NCTC. The first year we did not have a cam up in the tree, and we were able, though, to watch the pair of eagles as they fledged one young eagle.
The next summer we decided it would be neat to put a camera up in the tree, and we were able to get up in the tree and mount that camera so everybody around the world could see what was going on.
And since then, a huge community, a global community, has turned out to watch these eagles.
MARK MADISON: Jay, why have an Eagle-Cam at NCTC?
JAY SLACK: Well, first of all, we were really blessed with the opportunity to put the camera in the nest and make it available to folks to see what it's like in the day of the life of an eagle, but more importantly, the National Conservation Training Center and the Fish & Wildlife Service is really focused on conservation education, and we believe having this Eagle-Cam and getting the word out to folks is one of the avenues that we can use as an agency to let people know how important it is to enjoy wildlife, learn about wildlife, how important it is to maintain habitat that's supportive of natural critters, and how much enjoyment we can get from being able to watch them, whether it's an Eagle-Cam in the tree here at National Conservation Training Center broadcast throughout the world or whether it's birds in your backyard. I think they're all equally enjoyable to watch.
MARK MADISON: Steve, what are some of the more interesting things folks have been able to see on the Eagle-Cam over the last seven years?
STEVE CHASE: Over the history of having a cam up there, they've fledged about eight young eaglets. It's been pretty neat watching them come out of the eggs and then grow until they're to the point where they can actually fly out of the nest. But those have been the fun times. There's also been some not so fun times that are all part of nature. That includes bad weather that has had impacts on eggs that have been laid.
And also, though, you get the opportunity to be able to watch how diligent and committed these birds are to keep those eggs safe and dry. I can still remember the-- a day three years ago when we had a sleet and ice storm. They came in, and one of the eagles literally sat on those eggs until it was neck deep in the snow, and unfortunately her efforts weren't quite enough that year and she lost all three eggs, but certainly her dedication was really admirable, and I think a really neat thing to watch.
MARK MADISON: Great. Jay, do you have any idea of who is tuning into the Eagle-Cam to watch the images we have?
JAY SLACK: From the folks that I've talked with and heard about that are watching the Eagle-Cam, really, there's no, I guess, mold that anyone fits. We have grade school kids. We've got college students. We've got people viewing from their homes. We've got professionals that are viewing from their desktops at work. And, basically, I don't think there's any one person that might be more likely to watch the
eagle nest. But one thing is certain, is when people start watching the eagles, they're all equally passionate about what they see and what they learn.
MARK MADISON: Yeah, it seems pretty addictive. I've talked to a couple teachers who are just running it full time in their classrooms. So it seems to reach a lot of school children.
Steve, what's the future of the Eagle-Cam?
STEVE CHASE: Well, the future is we'll be able to broadcast for the rest of the year, and we'll see what happens with the birds next year. We're really fortunate to have a partner, the Outdoor Channel, and they work with us to make sure we have enough bandwidth to get the eagle video out to as many people as possible around the world, and without their help and assistance, we just wouldn't be able to do that. So we look forward to having another year.
MARK MADISON: Great. That's a good segue to also where can people find the Eagle-Cam if they're just tuning into the Podcast and haven't seen it yet?
STEVE CHASE: Probably the best place to start would be to go to the National Conservation Training Center web site. It's training.fws.gov, and if you go onto our main web site there, you can see a button you can click on that says Eagle-Cam, and that will bring you to our Eagle-Cam site, and you can go from there. We have both a still image that's up all the time and the hyperlink over to the Outdoor Channel's live video.
MARK MADISON: Thank you very much, Steve. Thank you, Jay. For those of you who want to learn more about the eagle, we're going to do two more Podcasts updating on the eagles, some recent events, and giving you some more information, and if you want to find our Podcasts, you can go to that same web site that Steve mentioned, which is the National Conservation Training Center, and we're at training.fws.gov, or you can also find our Podcasts by searching "National Conservation Training Center" on iTunes University. Thank you very much.
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