Bald Eagle Nesting Areas Protected in Voyageurs National Park 2013

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Date: May 21, 2013
Contact: Steve Windels, 218-283-6692
Contact: Tawnya Schoewe, 218-283-6670

INTERNATIONAL FALLS, MN - Voyageurs National Park biologists located bald eagle nests within the park boundary on April 10, 2013 while conducting the 41st consecutive spring aerial survey (1973-2013) to determine the number and location of nesting pairs present. Adult pairs were observed incubating at 34 nests. Active incubation occurred at all of the major lakes in Voyageurs. Two non-incubating pairs were also observed by nests. The number of incubators was down from the 2012 breeding season.It is possible that the late spring cold and snowy conditions delayed nesting in some pairs where birds nested last year. A late May survey will be conducted to locate possible late nesting pairs.

The park is obligated to follow the 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 their critical nesting periods. Some eagle pairs nest in late March and early April and others may not nest until late April.

The 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 ninth 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 (early May through mid-August). Boaters are also encouraged to not stop on the water within the 200-meters near active nesting sites.

The breeding areas around four of the park's 44 nesting territories that have been occupied by breeding pairs in the past 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.

Three of the park's 238 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.
  • 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 Sphunge Island Inlet. A small bay south of Stagies Point on the west portion of Sphunge Island.

Two nests observed in 2012 were gone this year either because nest trees blew down or nests fell from nest trees. One new nest not observed last season was seen on Kabetogama Lake.

People play a very important role in protecting nesting eagles and other birds. Individual eagles differ in temperament and tolerance to human and natural activities. Some are easily displaced by human/eagle interactions, whereas others are more accustomed to close interactions with humans. April, May, and June are particularly sensitive periods for nesting eagles.

Superintendent Mike Ward said, "We appreciate the public's assistance in protecting your bald eagles of Voyageurs National Park. Reducing the potential adverse impacts at eagle nesting areas ensures that we are successful at sustaining the eagle population".

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Last updated: April 10, 2015

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Voyageurs National Park Headquarters
360 Hwy 11 East

International Falls, MN 56649


(218) 283-6600

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