A slight drop in the number of bald eagle nests with eggs has been recorded at Voyageurs National Park during the annual survey earlier this month.
During a survey on April 11 biologists spotted 72 bald eagle nests, and of those adult pairs were seen incubating at 34 nests, according to a park release. That's a dip from 37 active nests seen last year, but up from the 30 counted in 2010.
Eagles are incubating eggs on nests throughout the park, including one on Crane Lake, two on Sandpoint Lake, six on Namakan Lake, 16 on Kabetogama Lake, and nine on Rainy Lake. Two non-incubating pairs were also observed next to nests, one on Kabetogama Lake and one on Rainy Lake.
Since the start of the 2011 breeding season, six new nests have been found inside Voyageurs, while seven nests have been lost when nests blew out of nest trees or nest trees fell over.
With eagles incubating eggs, a number of temporary closures are being enforced in the park to give the birds some peace and quiet. 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 (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 four 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.
“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," said Superintendent Mike Ward.