Wild Film Fest on Eagle’s Wings

Documenting the Return of Bald Eagles to the Channel Islands

<b>WATCH THIS:</b> <i>Return Flight</i> screens as part of the Wild & Scenic Film Fest.
Courtesy Photo

On the unfortunately common topic of everyday human ignorance leading to epic environmental disasters, few examples are starker than how the use of the pesticide DDT nearly wiped out the bald eagle, today a poignant symbol of our nation in more ways than one. But the eagle’s return to the Channel Islands — where it was completely eliminated — is also a powerful story of how we as humans can also correct the uninformed wrongs of past generations, with the help of science, technology, and decades of dedication. Today, more than 60 eagles fly over the islands, with a number of successfully nesting pairs on Catalina, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Rosa.

“Things are looking extremely positive for the future of bald eagles on the Channel Islands,” said Kate Faulkner, who has overseen natural resources at Channel Islands National Park since 1991. “We think they are going to be self-sustaining.” This groundbreaking recovery is the topic of the engaging and slick 13-minute documentary Return Flight, which is just one of nine films being shown this Saturday, September 28, as part of the 11th annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival that Los Padres ForestWatch is bringing to the Marjorie Luke Theatre. Also on the bill are films about carnivores, African glaciers, alpenglow, and getting kids and seniors out to nature.

On the forefront of the bald eagle’s recovery program almost since it began in the mid-1980s, Faulkner is proud of the results, which show that humans can indeed reset nature in certain circumstances. “We have been able to show that, if you have a lot of knowledge about how the ecosystem functions, you can understand what changes you need to make in order to better restore and protect the natural balance,” she explained. “With that case information, you can find the partners and the funding and develop the projects that can make a difference.”

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival comes to the Marjorie Luke Theatre as a benefit for Los Padres ForestWatch on Saturday, September 28, at 5:30 p.m. Visit lpfw.org for tickets.


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