Eagle Migration to the Chilkat River
Every fall there is a late salmon run of coho (silver) and chum (dog) salmon up the Chilkat River. It starts after other salmon runs on the west coast of North America have finished. This run brings American Bald Eagles from all over the northwest coast to feed on these Chilkat River salmon. Our resident 400 eagle population swell to thousands. The Haines School Environmental Science class follows this migration every fall semester. They picked up where previous researchers left off, using their protocols for counting eagles at a variety of locations. Counts of 3500 or more eagles have been recorded from aerial counts. Ours are ground counts with less viewing area.
Rachel Wheat has been tracking eagles with solar-powered tracking devices. Click here to see where the eagles have gone during the past year.
Skye Posey Caught An Eagle Release In Slow Motion.
2015 Eagle Data
In recent years there seems to be a decrease in eagle numbers at our usual count locations. There have also been warm winters. In addition, estimates of salmon numbers have shown some changes in timing and numbers. Below is a graph showing the high count days for ground counts from 1988-2015. (There is no data available for 2001-2008) A high count day is the greatest number of eagles counted on a day during a given year. The numbers of eagles have decreased in recent years possibly due to changes in salmon numbers, or decreased freezing of waterways giving them more places to fish.
The numbers on the horizontal axis refer to years, i.e. year 1 = 1986, year 25 = 2009 and year 30 = 2015.