Arizona Bald Eagle Population Doing Well, Officials Say

A bald eagle flies over Woods Canyon Lake east of Payson. | Gerry Groeber

Eighty-two bald eagles, the most since recovery efforts for the species began, were born in Arizona during the 2017 breeding season, the Arizona Game and Fish Department announced last week.

That number was up slightly from the previous high of 79 bald eagle chicks, set during last year's breeding season, which typically runs from December to June. The number of young that actually fledged, though, decreased slightly, Game and Fish said. At least 95 eggs, two fewer than in 2016, were laid in the state, the department said.

All those numbers represent a marked recovery for the species, which had just 11 breeding pairs in Arizona in 1978. Today, there are an estimated 67 adult breeding pairs in the state, Game and Fish said. A record 85 breeding areas, including two new ones, were identified.

The department attributed the species' rebound to the efforts of the Southwestern Bald Eagle Management Committee, which includes Game and Fish, other government agencies, private organizations and Native American tribes.

Bald eagles no longer are considered endangered in Arizona — they were removed from the federal Endangered Species Act in 2011 — but still are protected by federal law. Among the best places to spot them are Woods Canyon Lake, on the Mogollon Rim, and Ashurst Lake, southeast of Flagstaff.

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