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Mass. bald eagle population continues to grow

A bald eagle flew over the Merrimack River in January. David L. Ryan/Globe staff

WESTBOROUGH — State wildlife officials say the number of bald eagles in Massachusetts continues to grow.

The state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife announced Monday it had identified 76 territorial pairs of bald eagles this year, up from 68 pairs last year and 59 seen in 2016.

This year’s eagles fledged 65 chicks.

Wildlife officials say there are probably more eagles because not every nest has been documented.

Bald eagles disappeared from Massachusetts in the early 1900s.

The state re-introduced the birds of prey to the Quabbin Reservoir in 1982 and they can now be found from the Berkshires to Cape Cod.

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The bald eagle is the largest raptor in Massachusetts, with a wing span of up to seven feet and a weight of up to 15 pounds.