Bald eagle breeding season leads to restrictions; pilots, drone operators asked to avoid some areas

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.

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.

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.

Statewide Airspace Advisory

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established a 2000-foot above ground level (AGL) advisory along the Salt and Verde river When traveling in these drainages or near riparian habitat statewide, aircraft should maintain a minimum of 2000-foot AGL to ensure compliance with state and federal law.

Local seasonal closures

Whitehorse Lake — a portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from March 1 to Aug. 31. More information is available from Kaibab National Forest, Williams Ranger District at (928) 635-5600.

Lynx Lake — the Lynx Lake shoreline trail will remain open unless the eagle pair moves nesting locations. More information is available from Prescott National Forest, Bradshaw Ranger District at (928) 443-8000.

Show Low Lake — a portion of the lake may be closed to watercraft and a portion of the shoreline may be closed to foot entry from approximately March 1 through July 31. More information is available Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, Lakeside Ranger District at (928) 368-2100.

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