Thursday, December 06 2012 @ 11:54 PM EST
Contributed by: davidh
Prepared for the ‘coalition of the concerned’ – The Chehalis Flats Protection Group!
Nov. 20, 2012 Updated Dec. 6, 2012
By David Hancock, Bald Eagle Biologist, Hancock Wildlife Foundation.
Background of Chehalis Flats Bald Eagle & Fish Concerns:
Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival for 20 years and in the past 7 years the Hancock Wildlife Foundation have promoted the presence of bald eagles in the Harrison Mills area. Most recently David Hancock reviewed various bald eagle winter concentration areas in British Columbia and Alaska and other North American sites. The historic evidence clearly shows that over time many different areas hold varying numbers of wintering eagles. The region’s largest concentrations have regularly been at the Chilkat River in Alaska and the Squamish River system near Brackendale, BC. More recently the Chehalis – Harrison River complex in Harrison Mills has wintered the largest concentrations ever known.
The reasons for these huge gatherings of eagles are largely two-fold: weather conditions up north and salmon availability for the eagles throughout the area. The food availability locally is driven by the incredible productivity of the Harrison River system salmon runs. Historically we have seen that just having lots of spawned out carcasses does in itself not bring record numbers of eagles. Normally the wintering eagles are dispersed all along the northwest coastal salmon rivers, feasting on the carcasses until they are eaten out or frozen under the ice. On top of the influence of weather conditions is the prime numbers of salmon actually returning to the different rivers to spawn each season! Fewer spawned-out salmon in the northern rivers simply means, regardless of impacting weather, that less poundage of salmon are there to feed eagles – or the next generation & Fish.