It is a feast for the senses photographing a myriad of eagles soaring, screeching, tearing apart salmon, fighting and perching on branches all around you. Our bald eagle photo tour takes place in a special part of the world at a unique time of year, when thousands of eagles congregate to take advantage of the final salmon spawn of the season. The experience undoubtedly creates lasting memories for everyone who takes part in our bald eagle photography tour. Bald eagles’ specialized features and grace is part of what makes them such a spectacular subject for photography. But the history of America’s national bird is not all splendor and glory. It wasn’t too long ago that the magnificent predator – which sits at the top of its food chain, was on the verge of disappearing forever.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that when America adopted the bald eagle as the national symbol in 1782, the country had as many as 100,000 nesting eagles. But by 1963, with only 487 nesting pairs of bald eagles remaining, the species was in danger of extinction. Habitat destruction, illegal shooting and contaminated foods, largely as a consequence of the pesticide DDT, all played a part in the demise of the bald eagle, according to the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Luckily for our photographers, and for citizens throughout the globe, the bald eagle has made a significant comeback. On August 9, 2007, the bald eagle was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species. Officials credit the banning of the pesticide DDT, and habitat protection along important feeding and nesting sites, as the two main factors leading to the bald eagles’ recovery.
Although bald eagles have been taken off the endangered species list, there are still protections put in place to make sure the illustrious birds continue to flourish. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act forbids anyone from taking, possessing, buying, selling or trading any part of the eagles, alive or dead (including their nests and eggs). Other protections for bald eagles can be found in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Lacey Act.
Having witnessed the sheer beauty and magnitude of the animal, Shetzer’s photography guides have both awe and respect for bald eagles. Our guides are not only knowledgeable about the bald eagle’s favorite places to perch along the river banks of the Chilkat Preserve; they are also tuned in to bald eagle behavior. Matt says some eagles are comfortable with humans and don’t mind landing just a few feet away from photographers, while others prefer to keep their distance. As photographers observe the bald eagles, we watch for and learn the birds’ signs of stress. Photographers on our tour get the opportunity to be as up close and personal as possible with the bald eagles without disturbing or harming these amazing birds.