Eagle Preserve Wildlife River Adventure
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The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve was created by the State of Alaska in 1982. The preserve was established to protect and perpetuate the world's largest concentration of Bald Eagles and their critical habitat. It also sustains and protects the natural salmon runs and allows for traditional uses, provided such uses do not adversely affect preserve resources. The preserve consists of 48,000 acres of river bottom land of the Chilkat, Kleheni and Tsirku Rivers. The boundaries were designated to include only areas important to eagle habitation. Virtually every portion of the preserve is used by eagles at some time during the year.
There is a natural phenomena that happens near the village of Klukwan, which creates an upwelling of warm water during the cold winter months. This warm water keeps the cold river open and ice free, allowing for a late Chum Salmon run in late summer and early fall. This warm water along with the gravel deposited in this area is a perfect spawning ground for the salmon where they can lay their eggs without the cold temperatures affecting them. The Bald Eagles, being a bird of opportunity, will gather in this critical habitat area during the late fall and early winter, to feed on spawned out salmon. This is the reason the preserve was established.
Although there are about 3,000 to 4,000 Bald Eagles that gather in the winter months, there are about 300 resident eagles that live in the Chilkat Valley year round.
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