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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

May 2, 2002
Contact: Dan Matiatos (303)289-0503


This spring the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge can boast its first pair of nesting bald eagles. Over the last few years eagles have been adding sticks to a nest along First Creek, located on the eastern side of the Refuge. Instead of migrating north this spring, a pair of eagles stayed on the Refuge and produced eggs which hatched around April 5. This is one of only 44 bald eagle nests in Colorado. The number of nesting bald eagles in the state has risen substantially over the last decade, with only a handful of nests documented in the early 1990s. Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is one of the region’s premier sites for viewing large numbers of bald eagles during winter months.

Bald eagles are federally listed as a threatened species but have made a remarkable comeback since the early 1960s when there were just over 400 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states. Today there are more than 6,000 nesting pairs. The recovery of bald eagles was due in large to the protection of important habitat, like that found on the Refuge. Banning the use of DDT and other organochlorine pesticides that caused nesting failures, and the enactment of laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Bald Eagle Protection Act, also were critical factors that contributed to the recovery.

This success story is an outstanding example of America’s commitment to conserving our natural heritage.

 While the Refuge provides eagles shelter from disturbance and an abundance of food, especially prairie dogs, it also yields habitat for a multitude of other species. A significant population of burrowing owls, a species of concern in Colorado, are found nesting throughout the vast prairie dog towns on the Refuge. Swainson’s hawks, which arrive from South America in the spring, nest in the trees that surround former homestead sites. A number of other migratory birds nest in the Refuge’s varied habitats. In addition to diverse populations of birds , mule and white-tailed deer graze throughout the area, and coyotes search the grasslands for prey. These are just a few of more than 300 species that make the Refuge their home sometime during the year. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, still in the process of transitioning from a military installation to a full-time national wildlife refuge, and its friends and supporters throughout the local community can take pride in their contribution to the recovery of eagles and their involvement in protecting one of our nation’s wild places.

For more details and information about the Refuge or the National Wildlife Refuge System, contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR at (303) 289-0232.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses nearly 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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