In addition to the observations made by WRI during our more than 40 years of studying Golden Eagles, evidence from published studies confirm that human presence, especially in the forms of rock climbing, walking, hiking, camping, recreation and tourism, disturbs and adversely affects nearby nesting Golden Eagles (Colorado Division of Wildlife 2008, Holmes et al. 1993, Kaisanlahti et al. 2008, Romin 2002, Scott 1985, Steidl et al. 1993). WRI observations have specifically supported that such human activities are contributing factors to nest and chick abandonment. Raptors will flush, or fly away suddenly, if humans are on foot nearby. This is especially detrimental to the Golden Eagle population during nesting season, when flushing from the nest exposes young or eggs to chilling, overheating or possible predation by ravens or other predators. Colorado Division of Wildlife recognizes this by enforcing seasonal restrictions within a one-half mile radius of active Golden Eagle nests during nesting season (Colorado Division of Wildlife 2008).
Imagine if a raptor’s eggs in a cliff nest were exposed for the duration of the first to last rock climbers’ activities a single given weekend day. For eagles, this results in baby eagles and eggs being lost each year and is well documented by WRI in Southern California. Long-term disturbance from these human-based activities results in a total loss of the breeding pair and extirpation of the entire territory. WRI has recorded a 41% loss of breeding eagles in Southern California over the past 61 years, clearly correlated to human disturbance, development and encroachment (Bittner et al. 2011).
The Golden Eagles in these photos can be seen continuing with their daily activities while being photographed from a nearby helicopter. Photos taken by WRI Biologists.
There are good laws and processes in place that support your concerns. For instance, the wind and solar industries are being required to evaluate all their sites for possible interference with sensitive and protected species when proposing a new project.
Many in government and private sector are ignoring or violating laws enacted to protect wildlife. We should hold our own county government agencies such as SD County Parks and Recreation to the same standard and not allow them to use a negative declaration for their projects that will specifically disturb Golden Eagle nests.
Contact your County Supervisor and express your concern about trails being placed near Golden Eagle nest sites
Send letters to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USF&WS) and CA Fish and Game (CDFG) expressing the same concerns
Check to make sure there are no closings on the mountain or area where you are planning to spend time
California Department of Fish and Game
1416 Ninth St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
Department of Interior
US Fish & Wildlife Service
1849 C St, NW
Washington, DC 20240
Barbara Boxer, Senator
600 B St, Suite 2240
San Diego, CA 92101
San Diego County Board of Supervisors (Greg Cox, Dianne Jacob, Pam Slater-Price, Ron Roberts, and Bill Horn)
1600 Pacific Highway, Room 335
San Diego, CA 92101