On Saturday, Jan. 14, volunteers are needed to help the Forest Service count bald eagles for the 34th season in the San Bernardino National Forest’s annual winter bald eagle counts. In the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains, Saturdays, Jan. 14, Feb. 11 and March 10 are the official counts.
In December, no eagles were sighted at Lake Hemet, but John Miller, Forest Service Public Information officer, said, “The number of bald eagles in Southern California typically starts off low in December, peaking in January and February, and tapers off in March.”
Concurrent Bald Eagle counts are held at Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Lake Silverwood, and Lake Hemet. This year the Forest Service also added Lake Perris State Park Recreation Area. Volunteers will be stationed at vantage points around the lakes, where they will map and note any eagle observations during a 1-hour period. Observations, which began in December, will be repeated monthly through March.
“Through this method, the Forest Service has acquired information about areas eagles use and fluctuations in population numbers,” said Forest Service wildlife biologist Marc Stamer. “There’s no experience needed for volunteers and this is a wonderful opportunity to catch a glimpse of our breath-taking national symbol.”
No experience is needed. Volunteers should dress warmly and bring binoculars and a watch.
Lake Hemet volunteers should plan on meeting at the Lake Hemet Grocery Store at 8:30 a.m. for instructions. Contact Ann Poopatanapong ([email protected] or (909) 382-2935) for more information.
Eagles typically begin arriving in the area in late November and continue to stay in the area until early April. Breeding populations of bald eagles in Southern California were extirpated by the late 1950s. Until reintroduction efforts began in the 1980s on Catalina Island, the southern-most nest site known in California was in Lake County north of San Francisco. Since 2003, a pair of bald eagles has successfully fledged babies several times at Lake Hemet!
The bald eagle is a success story of the Endangered Species Act. Through protection under that law, the eagles’ population has recovered from the brink of extinction. Bald Eagles are no longer considered an endangered or threatened species. They still have full protection under the Bald Eagle Protection Act. Captive breeding programs, reintroduction efforts, the banning of DDT, and public education have all helped in the recovery of this species.