Bald eagle breeding season leads to restrictions

LAKE MEAD – Each year as part of its highly successful program to manage and conserve bald eagles in the state, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) asks outdoor recreationists, aircraft pilots, drone operators and motorized paragliders to help this magnificent bird in Arizona.

Various land and wildlife management agencies close areas around breeding locations during the birds’ breeding season to protect the state’s 67 breeding pairs of bald eagles. Some closure areas are located near popular recreation sites.

“Arizona’s bald eagle populations continue to grow each year, and that success wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation of outdoor recreationists who respect the closures during breeding season,” said Kenneth Jacobson, AZGFD bald eagle management coordinator. “We continue to work to create increased awareness among aircraft pilots, drone operators and motorized paragliders about the closures.”

Pilots are reminded to maintain the FAA-recommended 2,000-foot 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.

In December, Arizona bald eagles begin rebuilding nests in preparation for laying eggs. The birds nest, forage and roost at the rivers and lakes that have become some of Arizona’s most popular recreation spots, and this time of year can be challenging for the birds.

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.