Bald eagle counts scheduled for Saturday by federal rangers in the San Bernardino National Forest will not take place because of the partial government shutdown, though expeditions on state land will go ahead as planned.
Eagle observation outings that had been slated for Lake Arrowhead, Lake Hemet, Lake Gregory and Big Bear Lake were scrubbed because rangers who were assigned to them are effectively on furlough, according to the U.S. Forest Service website.
Eagle watches in the Lake Perris State Recreation Area and the Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area — both of which are operated by the California Department of Parks & Recreation — are still scheduled. However, individuals who wish to take part in those expeditions were advised to call ahead. Organizers of the Lake Perris outing can be reached at (951) 940-5600, and guides for the Silverwood Lake observation can be contacted at (760) 389-2303.
The annual eagle census began on Dec. 15, when bird watchers spotted 11 of the species around the lakes.
It is unknown if outings scheduled for Feb. 9 will happen.
The shutdown — stemming from President Trump’s and Democrat congressional leaders’ clash over funding for a wall to secure the border with Mexico — is in its third week.
Along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to which the USFS is attached, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, the Department of Commerce and other non-defense agencies have been impacted.
The Forest Service inaugurated its annual winter census in 1978 to gauge the bald eagle population nesting in the San Bernardino National Forest to wait out the cold months.
Eagles generally nest in the lakeside areas from late November to early April. Radio tracking devices attached to some birds show that, in a given year, they can migrate to the region from as far north as Alberta, Canada.
Because of hunting and habitat destruction, the American bald eagle was nearly driven to extinction in the past century. The birds were declared endangered in the 1970s. However, with over 10,000 breeding pairs identified across the continental United States, they were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007.
More information is available at www.fs.usda.gov/sbnf .
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