HELLS CANYON, Idaho (News Release) – Idaho Power biologists count bald eagles in Hells Canyon every year as part of a nationwide survey to monitor the population of America’s national bird. The survey is done on a single day each January.

The most recent count tallied 81 bald eagles — higher than the previous year’s 48, but near the long-term average for the survey, which began in the winter of 1988–89. The numbers fluctuate from year to year, depending largely on how much food is available.

The bald eagle was listed for protection in 1979 under the Endangered Species Act after decades of decline stemming from the use of pesticides, particularly DDT, and other human activity. Populations increased rapidly after 1980 with greater environmental awareness and dropping DDT levels. The eagle was removed from the endangered species list in 2007.

To determine changes in wintering bald eagle populations, nationwide surveys began in 1979 and were first conducted in Oregon and Idaho in 1988. The U.S. Geological Survey in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers coordinates the survey.

“This is an important part of the company’s commitment to stewardship of the Snake River and areas surrounding our hydroelectric projects,” said Senior Biologist Toni Holthuijzen, who coordinates the Idaho Power survey.