Enjoy ‘Eagles and Bagels’ at Oahe Downstream Recreation Area
PIERRE, S.D. – Visitors to 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 on Saturday, Feb 5.
“The event is well-attended annually and is a great opportunity for participants and families to get out and enjoy our winter resident eagles at Oahe Downstream,” said Pat Buscher, Oahe Downstream District Supervisor. “Participants have an opportunity to view and learn about the bald eagles on the guided walk. We always have a great chance of seeing many birds at this time of year. With the cold weather and the geese residing in the area, we are observing several bald eagles in the recreation area.”
Eagles find food in the open water below Oahe Dam and also prey on weakened geese. Food and sheltered roosting trees create an eagle hot spot north of Pierre.
The program will begin at 9 a.m. CST at the Oahe Downstream group lodge. Information will be presented by park staff, highlighting eagle habitat and characteristics and discussing tips and proper conduct for viewing and photographing birds. The group will travel into the park for a 1.5 mile guided walk (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. Pier 347 is providing bagels for the event. Coffee and juice will also be available at the Oahe Downstream group lodge following the walk.
“Last year’s attendance was down due to icy road conditions, but generally we host nearly 100 people and every year we enjoy having families with young children,” said Buscher. “For those who are not sure if they can complete the entire distance, we will shuttle guests to and from the lodge as needed.”
The Oahe Downstream campgrounds are currently closed to vehicle traffic because of the roosting eagles. Walkers and cross-country skiers are allowed in those areas, although they must be careful not to disturb the roosting bald eagles. If disturbed, the eagles may abandon their roosts.
There is no cost for the guided walk, but a South Dakota park entrance license is required. The new 2011 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 off state Highway 1806.
The Walk in the Park program is a series of educational, guided hikes held throughout the year in South Dakota state parks, recreation areas and nature preserves. Parks staff and volunteers lead the programs. For more information on bald eagles in state parks or the Walk in the Park program, visit www.gfp.sd.gov or call 605-773-3391.
– From a state Department of Game, Fish and Parks news release