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Protecting Bald Eagles and preventing legal troubles during bird watching/photography

Protecting Bald Eagles and preventing legal troubles during bird watching/photography (photo courtesy of Carl Chapman).

An increase in bald eagles across the Tri-States signifies the end of their migration south from Canada.

As the bald eagles start to nest along the Mississippi River, there could be legal implications if you get too close.

Our nation's symbolic bird flocks to the river to hunt during the winter, more specifically, the lock and dams.

The lock and dams help break up ice that may form and traps fish for the eagles to hunt.

When the river freezes, when the lakes freeze, they all get pushed down the Mississippi River and sometimes go down all the way to St. Louis," local birder Brad Jacobs explained. "At least they were doing that 20 years ago.

However, with this popular hunting ground comes a possible threat to the birds.

Photographers travel across the Tri-States to these lock and dams to catch the perfect shot.

Getting too close or disturbing the birds could leave you with a hefty legal fine of $5,000 and more or even prison time starting at a year.

Bald eagle nesting occurs in the Midwest from late January through late July, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Human interaction should be next to none with these birds.

Bald Eagles are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act dating back to 1940.

It protects the birds from disturbing, trapping, and killing among many others.

So while trying to get the perfect shot of our nation's symbol this winter, it's a good idea to stay at least 330 feet from their nesting areas and to keep loud machinery off, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

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