Salmon feast provides prime eagle watching

Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival takes place next weekend in Harrison Mills.

A pair of eagles keep a watchful eye on the Fraser River near Mission.

A pair of eagles keep a watchful eye on the Fraser River near Mission.

The Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival (FVBEF) is set to release a rehabilitated eagle in Harrison Mills next Wednesday, three days before the festival goes into full swing.

When bald eagles injure themselves they can only hope to end up in the care of Bev Day, founding director of the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) in Delta. Injured or orphaned eagles and other birds are nursed back to health with the intent of returning them to the wild.

“The reason we do the release in Harrison Mills is that it’s the best chance of the eagle for getting food and surviving,” said FVBEF chairwoman Joe-Anne Chadwick, based in Mission.

The non-profit FVBEF saves money each year to donate to OWL so that it may rehabilitate eagles.

Preserving and protecting eagle populations in the Fraser Valley are considered an important part of the FVBEF mandate. Although eagle populations never declined as precipitously here as they did in the United States, Chadwick says eagle biologist David Hancock found just 30 nests on the Fraser River three decades ago. Today there are between 200 and 300.

Chadwick says it’s a huge resurgence.

“But, it can go the other way just as quickly. Because with more eagles there’s more need for food, and you know what’s been happening with our salmon.”

Last year there were nearly 7,000 eagles spotted at the festival following a massive resurgence of 30 million salmon, the biggest run of sockeye since 1913. That was a far cry from the 1.5 million seen the year before. This year the numbers are back down to roughly four million.

The eagles engorge on salmon at this time of year, starting upstream where salmon spawning is greatest, before moving downstream as the weather cools. Then the eagles practically starve waiting for small herring to come back to the Fraser River.

Chadwick was upriver last week and says she counted nearly 500 eagles in the area.

The festival has faced significant challenges this year when their headquarters on Stave Lake was burglarized in mid-September, losing $3,000 in equipment and paraphernalia to thieves.

They made off with expensive viewing scopes, binoculars and walkie-talkies, and even items of little to no resale value. Things like a petty cash box with no cash in it, four wooden plaques carved by local First Nations, 53 branded FVBEF hats, and one Robert Bateman youth large bald eagle festival T-shirt.

Fortunately, Chadwick says the insurance will cover the replacement of telescopes and other bird-viewing equipment, and donations have been gratefully accepted from the community as they prepare for this year’s event.

“Even if we just get scopes this year, we’ll be quite happy,” she said.

The FVBEF is a two-day event that begins the weekend after the Nov. 16 release, which takes place at the Sandpiper Golf Resort in Harrison Mills.

Daily jet boat eagle tours, interpreted walking tours and traditional First Nation’s salmon barbecue can be booked now. Visit www.fraservalleybaldeaglefestival.ca/ for full details.

Just Posted

Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema, a member of the Canadian national women’s soccer squad.
Another scoreless draw for Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema and Canadian national women’s soccer squad

Canada played Brazil to a 0-0 tie days after doing the same in a friendly against the Czech Republic

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

Black Press file photo.
COVID exposure recorded at Kent Elementary

Students, families encouraged to keep monitoring for symptoms

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read