Lake Pleasant in Peoria is among the statewide sites to which Arizona’s bald eagles are returning and preparing for the next generation of eagles at breeding sites.
To assist with the state’s continued bald eagle population growth, the Arizona Game and Fish Department encourages outdoor recreationists, aircraft pilots, drone operators and motorized paragliders to do their part by not disturbing the state’s 92 eagle breeding areas.
To protect breeding attempts, some portions of public land and water areas will be closed temporarily to help these 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,” bald eagle management coordinator Kenneth “Tuk” Jacobson stated in a news release.
“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.”
At Lake Pleasant, no vehicle, watercraft or foot entry is allowed into a portion of the Lower Agua Fria Arm from Tuesday, Dec. 15 to June 15. Contact Maricopa County Parks and Recreation at 928-501-1710 with any questions.
The Federal Aviation Administration has established a 2,000-foot above ground level 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. Special brochures for pilots regarding this advisory are available by calling the Arizona Department of Transportation or Game and Fish’s Terrestrial Wildlife branch at 623-236-7506.
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.
During the 2020 breeding season, 71 young hatched, and 55 reached the important milestone of their first flight, known as fledging.
If residents 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 Game and Fish, may help to plan a trip to avoid disturbing bald eagles.
Bald eagles protecting an active nest will let you know if you are too close. If a bald eagle is vocalizing and circling the area frantically, you are too close and need to leave the area quickly. Bald eagles incubating eggs or brooding small young should never be off the nest for more than 15 minutes.
Help from anglers is especially needed. Fishing line and tackle have killed two nestlings and been found in two-thirds of all bald eagle nests in the state. Every year biologists remove these lethal hazards from nests and/or entangled nestlings.
Discard any fishing line properly in specially-marked recycling containers or at fishing stores. Also, use fresh line that isn’t old and brittle. Use the correct test line for the fish you are trying to catch. Also, do not cut the line when an undesirable fish is caught and return it to the water with the hook and line attached.
Duck hunters should scout out hunting areas to ensure bald eagles are not nesting nearby.
Help conserve and protect bald eagles and conservation research and recovery efforts by reporting any harassment or shooting of bald eagles. Call the 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 20 years ago to provide for wildlife education and conservation through Arizona lottery ticket sales.