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Bald eagle breeding season kicks off, leads to restrictions

Posted December 4, 2018

Outdoor recreationists, pilots and drone operators asked to avoid bald eagle nest areas

PHOENIX — Arizona’s bald eagle breeding season is on the horizon and multiple public land and water areas will be closed to protect the majestic animals and ensure even more young eagles take to the skies this spring.

Each year as part of its highly successful program to conserve and protect bald eagles in the state, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) asks outdoor recreationists, aircraft pilots, drone operators and motorized paragliders to do their part not to disturb the state’s 87 eagle breeding areas.

“December is a sensitive time for bald eagles because they’re often busy preparing their nests for eggs,” said Kenneth “Tuk” Jacobson, AZGFD bald eagle management coordinator. “The birds often nest, forage and roost at rivers and lakes that are also popular recreation spots. Because of that, it’s important for us all to do what we can to protect the birds to ensure their populations statewide continue to flourish. That success wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation of outdoor recreationists who respect the closures during breeding season.”

During the 2018 breeding season, a record 87 young hatched and 70 reached the important milestone of their first flight, known as fledging.

To further protect the eagles, various land and wildlife management agencies will also close areas around breeding locations, including near popular recreation sites.

Pilots are reminded to maintain the FAA-recommended 2,000-foot above ground level advisory when flying over bald eagle habitat, while drones and paragliders are asked to avoid the areas completely. Bald eagles are sensitive to even short durations of low-flying aircraft activity near their nests and just a few minutes of disturbance can lead to a nesting failure.

AZGFD’s bald eagle management efforts are supported by the Heritage Fund, an initiative passed more than 20 years ago to provide for wildlife education and conservation through Arizona lottery ticket sales.

AIRSPACE ADVISORY

Statewide

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established a 2000-foot above ground level (AGL) advisory along the Salt and Verde river drainages and lakes such as Lake Pleasant, Roosevelt Lake and Alamo Lake. These areas are designated on the Phoenix Sectional Aeronautical map and also include Alamo Lake, Ashurst Lake, Greer Lakes, Crescent Lake, Luna Lake, Show Low Lake, Chevelon Canyon Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, Lake Mary, Dogtown Reservoir, White Horse Lake and the Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge. Special brochures for pilots regarding this advisory can be obtained by calling the Arizona Department of Transportation or the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Terrestrial Wildlife branch at (623) 236-7506.

SEASONAL CLOSURES

Verde River

Tonto Creek

Salt River

Crescent Lake

A portion of the west side is closed closed to all entry from March 1 through Aug. 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest Springerville Ranger District at (928) 333-6200.

Greer Lakes

(Tunnel and River) (not enacted unless pair moves nesting location) – Portions of the lakes may be closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from March 1 through July 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest Springerville Ranger District at (928) 333-6200.

Horseshoe Lake

A portion of the lake is closed from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department at (623) 236-7506.

Lake Pleasant

No vehicle, watercraft or foot entry is allowed into the Lower Agua Fria Arm from Dec. 15 to June 15. Contact Maricopa County Parks and Recreation at (928) 501-1710.

Lower Lake Mary

(Not enacted unless pair moves nesting location) There may be no vehicle or foot traffic allowed on a portion of the north side of the lake from Jan. 1 to Aug. 30. Contact the Coconino National Forest Flagstaff Ranger District at (928) 527-8288.

Luna Lake

The north side of Luna Lake is closed to vehicle and foot traffic from Jan. 1 to June 15. Contact Apache National Forest Alpine Ranger District at (928) 339-5000.

Lynx Lake

A portion of the lake’s east side is closed to vehicle and foot traffic from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact the Prescott National Forest Bradshaw Ranger District at (928) 443- 8000.

Show Low Lake

A portion of the lake may be closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from March 1 through Aug. 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest Lakeside Ranger District at (928) 368-2100.

White Horse Lake

A portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from March 1 to Aug. 31. Contact the Kaibab National Forest Williams Ranger District at (928) 635-5600.

Woods Canyon Lake

A portion of the lake may be closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline is closed to foot entry from March 1 through Aug. 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Black Mesa Ranger District at (928) 535-7300.

TIPS FOR VISITING EAGLE AREAS

If you are visiting bald eagle country, an advance call to the local land management agency, such as the local U.S. Forest Service district office, or the Arizona Game and Fish Department may help to plan your trip to avoid disturbing bald eagles. By following these simple guidelines, we can all help ensure that our living wildlife legacy will last for generations to come:

You can help bald eagle research and recovery efforts by reporting any harassment or shooting of bald eagles. Call the Arizona Game and Fish Operation Game Thief Hotline at (800) 352-0700 or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement at (480) 967-7900.

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