Source AP ©

Santa Catalina Island has the third bald eagle egg hatched in the wild

A bald eagle egg hatched in the wild on Santa Catalina Island, the third eaglet born without human assistance since chemical contamination wiped out the birds there.

The eaglet emerged from its shell sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning, according to Catalina Island Conservancy officials. Its sex had yet to be determined.

The hatchling's egg was one of four laid last month on the east end of the 76 square mile (197-square-kilometer) island off Los Angeles County.

Two other eaglets hatched April 2. A fourth egg could hatch at any time, officials said.

The newest eaglet belongs to a 15-year-old male native to the island and a 14-year-old female hatched in the San Francisco Zoo and then brought to the island.

For nearly two decades, biologists have worked to get the adult eagles on Catalina to reproduce without human assistance after contamination from chemical dumping caused their eggs to weaken and dehydrate.

The chemicals DDT and PCBs decimated the bald eagle population on Catalina and did tremendous damage to coastal fisheries and seabird populations on the chain of eight Channel Islands off Southern California. The last bald eagle egg to hatch in the wild was in the 1940s, Muscat said.

More than thirty years after the dumping stopped, there are now 23 bald eagles regularly on Santa Catalina, including five nesting pairs.