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Contact: Tawnya Schoewe, 218-283-6670
Contact: Steve Windels, 218-283-6692
Voyageurs National Park biologists located 67 bald eagle nests within the park boundary on April 15, 2014 while conducting the 42 consecutive spring aerial survey (1973-2014) to determine the number and location of nesting pairs present.
Winter conditions were severe and continued late into April. On May 11, there was still much ice on most of the major lakes making navigation hazardous and impossible. It is likely that a significant number of previously occupied breeding territories with incubators in 2013 (35) were not occupied on April 15, 2014.A second occupancy survey will be conducted in late-May to locate more occupied breeding territories and late incubating pairs.
Adult pairs were observed on April 15 incubating at 27 nests, compared to 35 in 2013, 34 in 2012 and 37 nests in 2011. Active incubation occurred at one park nest on Crane Lake, 12 on Kabetogama Lake, 3 on Namakan Lake, 7 on Rainy Lake, 3 on Sandpoint Lake and one on an interior lake. Two non-incubating pairs also occupied nests in breeding territories, one on Kabetogama Lake and one on Namakan Lake.
One new park nest was found and six other nests blew down or the nest trees fell over since the 2013 breeding season.
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 their critical nesting periods. Some eagle pairs nest in late March and early April and others may not have initiated nesting until late April or early May.
The closed areas are marked with closure signs and buoys. 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 12th 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 two of the park's 27 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.
Two of the park's 291 developed day use; camping and houseboat sites are affected by the temporary closures. The closed developed areas are: Kabetogama Lake – Happy Landing Campsite (K-11) and Camelback Island Campsite (K-3). Happy Landing Campsite is on the park's new reservation system and will be closed until further notice.
If more breeding areas are found with actively nesting pairs that fall within conservation management guidelines after this news release is issued, more park areas may be posted closed.
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. Overall, reducing the potential for sustained close human/eagle interactions has been documented to allow greater nesting success of eagles throughout the United States.
Superintendent Mike Ward said, "We appreciate the public's assistance in protecting the bald eagles of Voyageurs National Park. Reducing the potential adverse impacts at eagle nesting areas ensures that we are successful at sustaining the VNP eagle population".
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.