Bald eagle work Nozzolio's swan song?

Retiring state Sen. Mike Nozzolio takes pride in the bald eagle and the work of people in the Finger Lakes region who saved the bird from extinction

Originally published by the Daily Messanger
By Julie Sherwood, July 8, 2016

We’re soaring quickly into the hottest months of the election season. Campaign press releases are flying, candidate signs are popping up — and expect lots more back-and-forth banter among contenders before we head to the polls this fall.

People have all sorts of opinions on politics, much of it unflattering. But sometimes, politics works for the good.

Before saying goodbye to one of the state’s longest-serving lawmakers and focusing on the people who hope to replace him, let’s turn to state Sen. Michael Nozzolio, and the bald eagle.

Nozzolio, R-Fayette, reminded constituents of an accomplishment in his district in which he is especially proud of having played a role: Helping save that magnificent bird.

“From the verge of extinction just a few short years ago, the return of the bald eagle is a significant success story,” said Nozzolio, in crediting the “great work of many individuals” for the bald eagle being taken off of the Endangered Species list in 2007.

“We all should take great pride in the fact that our own Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, which stretches across Cayuga, Wayne and Seneca counties in the Finger Lakes region, has taken a very active role in the regrowth of the bald eagle population,” Nozzolio said.

So far in 2016, nearly 100 bald eagle sightings within the Wildlife Refuge have been reported.

“This is a milestone for the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge as well as the nearby Montezuma Audubon Center in Savannah (New York), which I helped to establish,” he said.

Over the last 13 years, 198 nesting bald eagles were brought to New York state and set free to nest, with the hope that the program would expand the state’s bald eagle population. In 1990, there were an estimated 13 pairs of nesting bald eagles in New York. That rose to over 50 pairs in 2000, and 110 in 2007.

“In 1987, there was only one pair of bald eagles at the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge. The recent sighting of over 77 bald eagles at Montezuma Wildlife Refuge is incredible news and clearly indicates that the repopulation program is a success,” Nozzolio said.

In the years between 1987 and 2016, the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge made numerous efforts to protect bald eagle nests throughout the refuge. “The Montezuma Wildlife Refuge continues its great work to protect bald eagle nests and maintain a safe and plentiful home for the bald eagle," Nozzolio stated.

Nozzolio encouraged people to visit the Refuge and Audubon Center and thanked the work the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge has done in helping to save the bald eagle.

Nozzolio, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1982 and then to the Senate in 1991, announced early this year he would not seek reelection and more recently underwent open heart surgery.