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HomeKidsArizona Bald Eagle Seasonal Closures Update

Arizona Bald Eagle Seasonal Closures Update

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 97 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. 

“Arizona’s bald eagles are hard at work preparing their nest for what we hope will be a productive breeding season,” said Kenneth “Tuk” Jacobson, bald eagle management coordinator. “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.” 

During the 2023 breeding season, 76 young hatched, and 65 reached the important milestone of their first flight, known as fledging. 

Pilots are reminded to maintain the FAA-recommended 2,000-foot above ground level advisory when flying over bald eagle habitat, while 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. 

AIRSPACE ADVISORY

Statewide

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established a 2,000-foot above ground level (AGL) 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 and also include Alamo Lake, Ashurst Lake, Greer Lakes, Crescent Lake, Luna Lake, Show Low Lake, Chevelon Canyon Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, Lake Mary, Dogtown Reservoir, White Horse Lake and the Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge. Special brochures for pilots regarding this advisory can be obtained by calling the Arizona Department of Transportation or AZGFD’s Terrestrial Wildlife branch at 623- 236-7506.

LOCAL SEASONAL CLOSURES

A portion of land west of the lakes is closed to all entry from March 1 through Aug. 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Springerville Ranger District, at 928-333-6200.

Fool Hollow Lake

A portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from Dec. 1 through June 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Lakeside Ranger District, at 928-368-2100.

Greer Lakes

(Tunnel and River). Depending on the nesting location, portions of the lakes may be closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from March 1 through July 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Springerville Ranger District, at 928-333-6200.

Horseshoe Lake

Depending on the nesting location, a portion of the lake may be closed from Dec. 1 to June 30. Contact AZGFD at 623-236-7506. 

Show Low Lake

A portion of the lake may be closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from Jan. 1 through July 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Lakeside Ranger District, at 928-368-2100.

Woods Canyon Lake

A portion of the shoreline is closed to foot entry from March 1 through Aug. 31. Contact the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Black Mesa Ranger District, at 928-535-7300.

For more closures go to www.azgfd.com

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 the Arizona Game and Fish Department may help to plan your trip to avoid disturbing bald eagles. By following these simple guidelines, we can all help to 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. Biologists remove these lethal hazards from nests and/or entangled nestlings every year. 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.  

Help conserve and protect bald eagles, and conservation research and recovery efforts, by reporting any harassment or shooting of bald eagles. Call the Arizona Game and Fish Operation Game Thief Hotline at 800-352-0700 or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement at 480-967-7900.

Mountain Daily Star Staff

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