Bald Eagles in Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park News Release


July 28, 2011

For Immediate Release

Lee Grim (218) 283-6680


 Four of the park’s 239 developed visitor use camping and houseboat sites and four undeveloped areas that were affected by temporary closures in May to protect bald eagle nesting pairs are now reopened for public use. The areas were marked with closure signs and buoys.

 The four reopened developed areas are: 

  • Namakan Lake –SextonIsland (N 62) campsite
  • Rainy Lake –Sand Bay South (R25) houseboat site.
  • Kabetogama Lake – Feedem Island (K39) andYoderIsland (K 37) houseboat sites.

 The four reopened undeveloped areas are:

  • Kabetogama Lake – West Sphunge Island Inlet,NorthWoodDuckIsland and West Harris Island Point.
  • Rainy Lake – TheNorthDiamondIsland undesignated houseboat site.

 The park is obligated to follow the conservation management actions of the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Management Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668c, 1940 as amended). 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. 

 Voyageurs National Park biologists found 74 nests within the park boundary this breeding season. Three nests observed in 2010 were gone this year either because nest trees blew down or nests fell from nest trees. One new nest was found on Kabetogama, Rainy and SandPoint Lakes for a total of three new nests. 

 Two non-incubating pairs were observed by nests in known breeding territories on Kabetogama andRainy Lake.  Adults were observed incubating at 36 nests compared to 33 in 2010, 38 in 2009, 30 in 2006, 26 in 2004 and 2005, and 20 pairs in 1999. Incubation occurred at 1 park nest on CraneLake, 1 on an interior lake, 14 onKabetogama Lake, 8 on Namakan Lake, 9 on Rainy Lake and 3 on Sandpoint Lake. 

 Twenty-eight young fledged from 24 park nests: 1 at Crane, 16 at Kabetogama, 5 at Namakan, 3 at Rainy, 2 at Sand Point and 1on an interior lake. Fifty-seven per cent of all fledged young in the park in 2011 originated from 13 nests on Kabetogama Lake.

 Nesting failures occurred at 12 territories: 6 of 9 areas on Rainy, 4 of 8 areas on Namakan, 1 of 14 areas on Kabetogama and 1 of 3 areas on SandPoint Lake. Rainy Lakein particular experienced an unusually high proportion of nest failures in 2011 (67%).  By comparison, only 7% of nests failed on KabetogamaLake.  It is unclear whyRainy Lake experienced relatively more nest failures than previous years.

The number of young produced per occupied breeding area for the 2011 breeding population inVoyageursNational Parkwas 0.74.  Sixty-three per cent of breeding pairs occupying a breeding area successfully raised at least one fledgling. Breeding success of 70% and productivity of 1.0 are considered characteristics of a healthy bald eagle breeding populations; long-term averages forVoyageursNational Parkapproach these thresholds.

Superintendent Mike Ward said, “We appreciate the public’s assistance in protecting the bald eagles ofVoyageursNational Park.”


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