Visitors of the Oahe Downstream Recreation Area near Fort Pierre will learn all about the park’s winter residents and enjoy a snack on the Eagles and Bagels Walk in the Park Feb 2.

“The annual event has had great attendance. This is a good opportunity for families and participants to get out and enjoy our South Dakota winter and view the migrating eagles found at the Oahe Downstream Recreation Area,” said Pat Buscher, Oahe DS District Supervisor.

Participants will also learn more about eagles from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Charlene Bessken, author of the 1991 children’s book, Eagles for Kids. Bessken also wrote the Wisconsin Bald Eagle Recovery Plan, and she coordinated recovery efforts.

Event participants have a great opportunity to view, learn, and ask questions about the bald eagles on the guided walk. During January and February park visitors always have a great chance of seeing many birds. The cold weather, abundant cottonwood trees, and a stable food source keep the eagles located close to the open water of the downstream area, said Buscher.

The Feb. 2 program will begin at 9 a.m. CT at the Oahe Downstream group lodge. A short presentation will highlight eagles, their habitat, and tips and proper conduct for viewing and photographing birds. The group will then travel into the park for a 2-mile guided hike (weather permitting) to observe the birds in their natural setting. The hike will include a number of stops to view eagles and answer questions. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars, cameras, comfortable hiking shoes and cold weather clothing.

Following the hike, guests are invited back to the lodge for bagels, provided by Pier 347, and coffee and juice, provided by Lynn’s DakotaMart.

The Oahe Downstream campgrounds are currently closed to vehicle traffic to protect the roosting eagles. Walkers and cross-country skiers are allowed in those areas, although they must be careful not to disturb the roosting eagles. If disturbed, the eagles may abandon their roosts and use up valuable food reserves.

There is no cost for the guided walk, but a South Dakota park entrance license is required. The 2013 park entrance licenses are available at the park. For more information, call 605-223-7722. Oahe Downstream Recreation Area is located five miles north of Fort Pierre, just off state Highway 1806.

Logo courtesy South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks

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