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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Out & About: Bald eagles numbers rise sharply

Bald eagle numbers

double at Lake CdA

OUTSOAR – The number of bald eagles arriving for the annual congregation at Lake Coeur d’Alene has more than doubled in a week.

The big birds are homing in on the feast of spawning kokanee –the biggest fish run in 20 years – in the northeast area of the North Idaho lake. The gathering usually peaks in late December.

Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, performed her second eagle survey of the season on Monday and counted 69 bald eagles in the Wolf Lodge Bay area, up from 26 a week earlier.

“After waiting out the sleet and rain I counted 57 adults (white heads) and 12 immature eagles,” she said. “Lots of eagles and it should only get better. There are a lot of dead and dying kokanee already.”

The Lake Coeur d’Alene population of kokanee –landlocked sockeye salmon – has been at a fairly high density since 2008, said Andy Dux, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager.

“But this year was our highest estimate since 1996, thus, there should be plenty of kokanee for the eagles,” Dux said.

Bald eagles also are showing up to feed on spawning kokanee at Priest Lake and Lake Pend Oreille, but the birds that return to Coeur d’Alene’s Wolf Lodge Bay are notably accessible for viewing south of Interstate 90 at Higgens Point and SR97 from the Wolf Lodge Exit.

The eagles provide a popular wildlife-viewing attraction with numbers of birds and viewers increasing into December. In 2015, the gathering soared to 126 bald eagles on Dec. 10.

Youth nordic programs

set for Mount Spokane

WINTERSPORTS – Sign-up is underway for the club-sponsored youth cross-country ski program that runs for eight winter weekends at Mount Spokane State Park.

Families who become members of Spokane Nordic, the club that supports the cross-country trail system on the mountain, can register children in Nordic Kids. Adult cross-country skiing lessons also are available.

Family memberships are $60 per year and Nordic Kids enrollment is $75, and $70 for additional kiddos. Registration costs increase after Dec. 15.

Starting Jan. 7, the youths meet in small groups on each Saturday through March 4 for two-hour group sessions with certified instructors who emphasize fun on skis as well as learning skills for classic and skating techniques.

Following decades of tradition, the kids are treated to hot cocoa and cookies at the end of each lesson when they return to the Selkirk Lodge.

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