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Coeur d’Alene bald eagle numbers drop unexpectedly

A bald eagle flies overhead after snagging a fish at Higgens Point along the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene on Dec. 22, 2018. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
A bald eagle flies overhead after snagging a fish at Higgens Point along the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene on Dec. 22, 2018. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

The number of eagles flocking to Lake Coeur d’Alene unexpectedly dropped in the latest count.

Bureau of Land Management biologist Carrie Hugo counted 123 eagles (105 adults and 18 juveniles) Tuesday. Normally, the numbers of migrating birds peak during the third week of December.

Last week 223 eagles were counted. For comparison, last year at this time Hugo counted 367 eagles.

“Carrie suspects it may be related to the kokanee salmon spawn concluding,” said BLM spokeswoman Suzanne Endsley in an email. “Typically, this third week of December is the peak week in terms of eagle counts and this has been the trend for nearly 20 years! We will need to see what the count is next week to really determine if they have moved on from the area or perhaps focusing on food sources north of CDA, such as Lake Pend Oreille.”

Hugo is reaching out to biologists with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to see what’s happening with kokanee and eagles on Lake Pend Oreille.

Regardless, on Saturday the annual BLM Veterans Eagle Watch Cruises will occur. Spots for the free cruise closed within an hour of the BLM opening registration.

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