Originally Published: December 5, 2018 7:58 p.m.
A portion of Lynx Lake’s east side is closed to vehicle and foot traffic until June 30 to protect bald eagle breeding and nesting activity.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) closed multiple public land and water areas Dec. 1 to safeguard the birds and ensure even more young eagles take to the skies this spring.
Each year as part of its highly successful program to conserve and protect bald eagles in the state, the Department asks outdoor recreationists, aircraft pilots, drone operators and motorized paragliders to do their part not to disturb the state’s 87 eagle-breeding areas.
“December is a sensitive time for bald eagles because they’re often busy preparing their nests for eggs,” said Kenneth “Tuk” Jacobson, AZGFD Bald Eagle Management coordinator.
The birds often nest, forage and roost at rivers and lakes that also are popular recreation spots. It is important for recreationists to do what they can to protect the birds and ensure their populations statewide continue to flourish, Jacobson said.
“That success wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation of outdoor recreationists who respect the closures during breeding season,” he said
During the 2018 breeding season, a record 87 young hatched, and 70 reached the important milestone of their first flight, known as fledging.
Pilots are reminded to maintain the FAA-recommended 2,000-ft. above ground level advisory when flying over bald eagle habitat; 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.
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.
For more information on the Lynx Lake closure, contact the Prescott National Forest Bradshaw Ranger District at 928-443-8000.
AZGFD provides these tips for visiting eagle areas.
Enjoy bald eagles from outside the closure area, which are marked with signs and/or buoys. Watch from a distance using a spotting scope, binoculars or telephoto camera lens.
Anyone approached by a nestwatcher and asked to cease an activity or leave a closed area should comply.
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 and immediately. Bald eagles incubating eggs or brooding small young should never be off the nest for more than 15 minutes.
Fishing line and tackle have killed two nestlings and been found in two-thirds of all bald eagle nests in the state. Discard of any fishing line properly in specially-marked recycling containers or at fishing stores. Also, use fresh line that isn’t old and brittle. 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.
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.
People can help bald eagle research and recovery efforts by reporting any harassment or shooting of bald eagles. Call the AZGFD Operation Game Thief Hotline at 800-352-0700 or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement at 480-967-7900.