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Restrictions in place as bald eagle breeding season begins

Posted November 30, 2022

 

Outdoor recreationists, pilots, drone operators asked to avoid nesting areas 

 

PHOENIX —  Arizona’s bald eagles are back, and they will soon be preparing for the next generation of eagles at breeding sites statewide. 

To assist with the state’s continued bald eagle population growth, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) encourages outdoor recreationists, aircraft pilots, drone operators and motorized paragliders to do their part by not disturbing the state’s 94 eagle breeding areas. 

To protect breeding attempts, some portions of public land and water areas will be temporarily closed to help these majestic animals and ensure even more young eagles take to the skies this spring. 

“Arizona’s bald eagles are hard at work preparing their nest for what we hope will be a productive breeding season,” said Kenneth “Tuk” Jacobson, bald eagle management coordinator. “The birds nest, forage and roost at rivers and lakes that are also popular recreation spots. That’s why we must be vigilant to help protect the birds and ensure their populations statewide continue to flourish. That success wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation of outdoor recreationists who respect the closures during the breeding season.” 

During the 2022 breeding season, 78 young hatched, and 61 reached the important milestone of their first flight, known as fledging. 

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. 

AIRSPACE ADVISORY

Statewide

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established a 2,000-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 AZGFD’s Terrestrial Wildlife branch at 623- 236-7506.

SEASONAL CLOSURES

Verde River 

Tonto Creek 

Salt River

Crescent Lake

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

Fool Hollow Lake

A portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from Dec. 1 through June 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Lakeside Ranger District, at 928-368-2100.

Greer Lakes

(Tunnel and River). Depending on the 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

Depending on the nesting location, a portion of the lake may be closed from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact AZGFD at 623-236-7506. 

Lake Pleasant

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

Luna Lake

Depending on the nesting location, the portion of land to the north or south of Luna Lake may be closed to vehicle and foot traffic from Jan. 1 to June 15. Contact the Apache National Forest, Alpine Ranger District, at 928-339-5000.

Lynx Lake

Depending on the nesting location, a portion of the trail on 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 Jan. 1 through July 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Lakeside Ranger District, at 928-368-2100.

Woods Canyon Lake

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 to ensure that our living wildlife legacy will last for generations to come: 

You can help conserve and protect bald eagles and conservation 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.

AZGFD’s bald eagle management efforts are supported by the Heritage Fund, an initiative passed more than 30 years ago to provide for wildlife education and conservation through Arizona lottery ticket sales.