Closed bald eagle nesting areas re-opened in VNP

Each year since 1992, the park has temporarily closed the land and water areas around active bald eagle nests to visitor use during their critical nesting periods.
The closures have been based on recommendations of bald eagle researchers from across the U.S. to land management agencies and in accordance with federal laws protecting bald eagles.
After the young leave the nest, which usually occurs by early August, these temporarily closed park areas are reopened for public use.
This summer areas around five of the park’s 32 nesting sites occupied by breeding pairs were temporarily closed to campers and other human activities. Four of the park’s 225 developed visitor use sites were affected by the temporary closures.
The closed areas now reopened are: Kabetogama Lake-Yoder Island (K37) houseboat site; Namakan Lake–Sexton Island (N62); Rainy Lake-Skipper Rock Island (R45) and Sand Bay South (R25) houseboat sites.
Undeveloped areas that visitors might use where active breeding pairs are nesting are also closed to human activity and marked with signs. Only one such area on Kabetogama Lake was closed at North Wood Duck Island Beach and is now reopened.
Sixty-nine bald eagle nests were identified within the park boundary this spring while conducting aerial and on-water surveys to determine the number and location of nesting pairs.
Adult pairs were observed at 32 of the nests. Thirty one of the 32 breeding pairs were actively involved in incubating. Number of incubating pairs in previous years were 29 pairs in 2005, 27 pairs in 2003 and 2004, 28 pairs in 2002 and 2001, 25 pairs in 2000 and 22 pairs in 1999.
Although most breeding pairs present in 2006 attempted nesting, 14 of the pairs failed to raise at least one young to the fledging stage of development. Eighteen of the pairs raised 26 young.
The 2006 reproductive success for the park’s breeding population was 56 percent and the number of young fledged per breeding pair was 0.81.
Reproductive success of 70 percent and 1.00 young per occupied breeding area are considered characteristics of healthy breeding populations.
Data from 1999-2005 indicate that Voyageurs National Park’s eagle populations have met or exceeded those thresholds and can be considered healthy and stable.
The relatively low rates of reproductive success and young per occupied breeding pair in 2006 are likely not indicative of a declining population. According to some eagle biologists who surveyed nesting success in the Great Lakes Region this year, there were many nesting failures early in the spring.
Early warm spring temperatures followed by cold, wet and snowy periods could account for low reproductive success. Some eaglets observed in the park during mid June were only three weeks old while others were up to eight weeks old.
It is possible that some breeding pairs that failed early on re-nested later. Nests with eaglets up to four weeks of age differences were observed in 2006.

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