For more than 35 years, Arizona's Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program has contributed to the tremendous growth of the state’s bald eagle population and helped save the lives of more than 60 eagle nestlings.
This year's nestwatchers begin their four-month tours of duty this week, watching 14 breeding areas, most along the Salt and Verde rivers in national forests, on Native American lands, and in Maricopa County parks. They collect data about the eagles' behavior, educate the public, and notify rescuers of any life-threatening situations for the birds.
So far in 2013, three new breeding areas have been documented bringing Arizona to a record 68 bald eagle breeding areas throughout the state.
The department's bald eagle conservation program is supported by the Heritage Fund, a 1990 voter-passed initiative that provides funding for wildlife conservation and education from Arizona lottery dollars. The nationally-recognized nestwatch program began in 1978 as a weekend volunteer effort by the U.S. Forest Service and Maricopa Audubon to help ensure the continued success of bald eagle breeding. Today, 26 government, private organizations and tribes are involved with the program to monitor bald eagle breeding areas that are under heavy pressure from human recreational activities.
For more information on Arizona's bald eagles, visit www.azgfd.gov/baldeagle or www.swbemc.org.