ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — State wildlife officials say New York's bald eagle population has hit a record of 323 breeding pairs.

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos says aerial surveys show that about 73 percent of bald eagle nesting territories are occupied this year.

Nesting territories are areas known to be occupied by bald eagles and are included in DEC's monitoring efforts. Last year, 53 new nesting territories were identified, bringing the total to 442.

Bald eagles were nearly eliminated from the state by the late 1960s, mainly due to the effects of the pesticide DDT on nesting success. In 1976, DEC started a "hacking" program, which involves capturing young eagles from states with healthy populations and hand-rearing them for release in New York.

The hacking program ended in 1989.

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