CHICAGO— Today Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn was joined with “Deshka”, a 7-year-old bald eagle, to raise support for a resolution commemorating the fourth Saturday of every January as “American Eagle Day” in Illinois. Quinn also encouraged citizens to take advantage of a prime opportunity provided during the next few weeks to witness the largest population of wintering bald eagles in the continental United States as they roost in Illinois.
“The American bald eagle, designated as National Emblem of the United States on June 20, 1782 and placed on the Great Seal of the state of Illinois in December 1818, is the living symbol of our nation’s freedoms, spirit and strength,” said Quinn. “By passing this resolution, we will encourage everyone in Illinois to celebrate these magnificent birds which, despite facing extinction only a few years ago due to pesticides, have made a stunning comeback.”
Quinn was joined by chief sponsor of the eagle resolution, Rep. John A. Fritchey (D-Chicago), sponsor Rep. Richard T. Bradley (D-Chicago) and members from the Illinois Audubon Society.
Historically, the fourth Saturday of every January has been among the most active weekend for eagles to be seen and can be a popular day that reminds families, school children and eagle enthusiasts to take advantage of Illinois’ many eagle-related tourism opportunities.
Quinn’s new brochure and website, www.SaveOurEagles.org, have a detailed list of eagle-inhabited areas and eagle-watching opportunities in Illinois where nature enthusiasts can explore unbelievable nature-based tourism opportunities.
“Why spend your money traveling to Wisconsin or Michigan when Illinois is home to the largest population of wintering bald eagles and our state can reap the massive benefits of nature-based tourism dollars,” said Quinn.
Illinois has a growing eagle population, with at least 3,100 bald eagles who winter here each year in at least 27 Illinois counties. Many of the more than two million wildlife watchers from Illinois are thrilled to see these magnificent birds in their natural environment. The spectacular display put on by Illinois’ wintering bald eagles has previously provided more than $1.8 million in revenue in LaSalle County alone.
“For those who want to begin a family tradition of winter eagle-watching this year, there are many options to explore,” said Quinn, who listed several events in the near future: Eagle Days Festival in Havana that goes until February 1, Bald Eagle Days at Starved Rock that goes until January 25, Pere Marquette State Park Eagle Days in Grafton that goes until February 4, Bald Eagle Watch & Clock Tower Tours in Rock Island that goes until February 15 and the Eagle Meet and Greet in Alton that continues through the end of January.
Quinn has also led the effort to protect the habitat of Illinois’ bald eagles, particularly those eagles facing a developer’s bulldozer on Plum Island near Starved Rock just 85 miles from Chicago’s Loop by launching an “online petition drive” that has already garnered more than 25,768 signatures. Eagle supporters can learn more and register their opinion immediately by visiting the website at www.SaveOurEagles.org