News Story: Rick Stiebel, Goldstream News Gazette

News Story: Rick Stiebel, Goldstream News Gazette
© Copyright 2003 Goldtream News Gazette; Gary Woodburn photo

Wednessday, January 08, 2003

Eagles have landed at Goldstream

The next few weeks are the prime time for viewing eagles at Goldstream Park. More than 100 bald eagles have arrived at the park, lured by the buffet of dead salmon remaining after this year’s spawn. Gary Woodburn photo

Since 1996, over 300 of these majestic birds have visited Goldstream Park, with the numbers increasing significantly since that time, with the establishment of a quiet, human-free zone within the estuary.

“I wish I could take credit for the Quiet Zone,” Goldstream Park naturalist Darren Copley said in a news release. “But it was really Mother Nature.”

He said there were fewer than five eagles when he started working at Goldstream Park 10 years ago.

The visitor centre at the park would close for several months each year after the salmon run.

Copley said the eagle population soared when the lower part of the river flooded, washing out trails that led to the estuary.

“When a black bear ventured into the estuary to feed off the dead salmon, an even larger area was set aside for wildlife,” Copley said.

The increase in the size of the protected area resulted in more than 160 eagles coming to the park that winter, and the numbers continue to rise.

“We are now able to keep the visitor centre open year-round while keeping the estuary closed to enjoy hundreds of wintering Bald Eagles,” Copley said.

He said the best time to view the eagles is during low tide, when the dead fish are exposed.

The visitor centre has telescopes and remote video cameras that enable excellent viewing, and trained naturalists are on hand to answer questions.
Although the provincial government eliminated funding for the visitor centre last March, Copley said the support of the public and an enthusiastic, dedicated group of volunteers have managed to keep the operation afloat.
He said the fund-raising efforts of the Habitat Acquisition Trust has also been instrumental.

The park’s Visitors’ Centre is open every day at 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Call 478-9414 to make a donation, or for more information.



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