May 2, 2012
Contact: Steve Windels
Voyageurs National Park biologists located 72 bald eagle nests within the park boundary on April 11, 2012 while conducting the 40th consecutive spring aerial survey (1973-2012) to determine the number and location of nesting pairs present. Adult pairs were observed incubating at 34 nests, compared to 37 nests in 2011 and 30 in 2010. Eagles are incubating eggs on nests throughout the park, including 1 on Crane Lake, 2 on Sandpoint Lake, 6 on Namakan Lake, 16 on Kabetogama Lake, and 9 on Rainy Lake. Two non-incubating pairs were also observed next to nests, 1 on Kabetogama Lake and 1 on Rainy Lake.
Since the start of the 2011 breeding season, 6 new nests have been found inside Voyageurs National Park while 7 nests have been lost when nests blew out of nest trees or nest trees fell over.
The park follows the recommended conservation management actions of the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Management Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668c, 1940 as amended). Each year since 1992 the park has temporarily closed the land and water areas around active bald eagle nests to visitor use during critical nesting periods. Some eagle pairs nest in late March and early April and others may not nest until late April.
The closed areas are marked with closure signs and buoys. The closures have been based on recommendations of bald eagle researchers from across the United States to park wildlife managers. Specific management recommendations from a two-year research study on the effects of watercraft on bald eagles nesting in Voyageurs National Park (Wildlife Society Bulletin 2002) are also being applied for the eighth consecutive year.
Park managers are asking both motorized and non-motorized watercraft users to not travel within 200 meters of nests where bald eagles are actively nesting during the closure period (late April through mid August). Boaters are also encouraged to not stop on the water within 200 yards of active nesting sites.
The breeding areas around 4 of the park's 34 nest sites occupied by breeding pairs are temporarily closed to campers and other human activities. After the young leave the nest, these temporarily closed park areas will be reopened for public use.
Four of the park's 200 developed day-use, camping, and houseboat sites are affected by the temporary closures. The closed developed areas are:
Rainy Lake -Sand Bay South (R25) and Skipper Rock Island (R45) houseboat sites. Kabetogama Lake - Yoder Island (K 37) houseboat site, Happy Landing Campsite (K11)
One undeveloped area that visitors might use where an active breeding pair is nesting is also closed to human activity and marked with signs or buoys. It is West Sphunge Island Inlet, on Kabetogama Lake.
Superintendent Mike Ward said, "We appreciate the public's assistance in protecting bald eagles in the park. Reducing the potential adverse impacts at eagle nesting areas ensures that we are successful at sustaining eagle populations in Voyageurs National Park".
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