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Bald Eagle Breeding Season

Restrictions In Place During Bald Eagle Breeding Season


February 1, 2021

Outdoor recreationists, pilots, drone operators asked to avoid nesting areas.

Arizona’s bald eagles are preparing for the next generation of eagles at breeding sites statewide.

To assist with the state’s continued bald eagle population growth, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) 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 temporarily closed to help these majestic animals and ensure even more young eagles take to the skies this spring.

During the 2020 breeding season, 71 young hatched, and 55 reached the important milestone of their first flight, known as fledgling.

Tips For Visiting Eagle Areas

If you 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 AZGFD, may help to plan your trip to avoid disturbing bald eagles. By following these simple guidelines, we can all help ensure that our living wildlife legacy will last for generations to come:

• Enjoy bald eagles from outside the closures, which are marked with signs and/or buoys. Watch from a distance using a spotting scope, binoculars or telephoto camera lens. If the eagles are persistently watching you, observation at a greater distance is advised.

• Anyone approached by a nestwatcher and asked to cease an activity or leave a closed area should comply. A few good places to see bald eagles without disturbing them (during December and January) are at Lake Mary and Mormon Lake near Flagstaff, on the Verde Canyon Train in Clarkdale or Roosevelt Lake.

• 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 their hunting area to ensure that bald eagles are not nesting nearby.

You can 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.


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