Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

March 23, 2010

Contacts:           Brad Rogers: 307.684.1046; brad_rogers@fws.gov

                         Leith Edgar: 303.236.4588; leith_edgar@fws.gov

 

Midwinter Survey Finds 298 Eagles in Powder River Basin

 

Seventy-six volunteers spent the morning of January 9 searching for bald and golden eagles across Campbell, Johnson and Sheridan Counties.  Their efforts were part of the nationwide Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey, coordinated locally by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Buffalo Field Office.  Volunteers counted 211 bald eagles, 71 golden eagles and 16 eagles of undetermined species on established survey routes along 1,229 miles of public roads.  Sightings of several other raptor species were also reported, including rough-legged hawks, and red-tailed hawks.

 

The Midwinter Bald Eagle survey has been conducted in the Powder River Basin since 2006, with 119 eagles counted that year.  Between 2007 and 2009, surveyors observed 300, 157 and 269 eagles, respectively.  Survey totals vary from year to year due to the number of routes covered in each year, but are also influenced by weather and the availability of food sources including fish, waterfowl, small mammals and carrion.

 

While hundreds of bald and golden eagles are seen in the Basin during the winter months, only a few stay year-round.  Approximately ten to twelve bald eagle pairs nest in the area.  A greater number of golden eagles remain in the Powder River Basin, with nesting activity confirmed at 89 nests in 2008.  The winter populations migrate north in March and April, returning to Canada and Alaska.

 

Federal agency staff and volunteers logged approximately 80 hours conducting this year’s Midwinter Bald Eagle survey in the Powder River Basin.  “Volunteers continue to be essential to the success of the Midwinter survey,” said FWS Fish and Wildlife Biologist, Brad Rogers, “We were very pleased with the number of returning volunteers and new participants in this year’s survey effort.  The information these dedicated volunteers collect will help wildlife managers continue to monitor the nation’s wintering eagle populations.”

 

The national Midwinter Bald Eagle surveys began in 1979 as an effort to identify wintering habitat and develop a total population index for the struggling eagle population in the lower 48 states.  Collecting eagle data over the long-term has allowed analyses of population trends that help to monitor the health of the species as a whole. 

If you are interested in volunteering next year, or would like additional information, contact Brad Rogers at 307-684-1046 or Chris Durham at 307-684-1049.  For more information on the national program and its results visit the U.S. Geological Survey Snake River Field Station website at:

http://srfs.wr.usgs.gov/research/indivproj.asp?SRFSProj_ID=2.

 

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

 - FWS -

 

 

eagle party Ucross.JPG

Several bald eagles perch in a cottonwood near Ucross in January 10, 2009.