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Published January 24, 2010, 01:08 PM

Bald eagles down in ND survey

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota wildlife officials say the number of bald eagles observed in early January along a stretch of the Missouri River was down significantly from past years.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota wildlife officials say the number of bald eagles observed in early January along a stretch of the Missouri River was down significantly from past years.

Game and Fish Department nongame biologist Patrick Isakson says 12 bald eagles were counted during the annual midwinter survey from Bismarck to the Garrison Dam.

The average number of bald eagles observed during the past decade is 43. Last year, the survey was canceled because of bad weather. In 2008, a record 85 bald eagles were tallied.

The number of bald eagles wintering in the state depends on the amount of open water and availability of prey. Isakson says about 90 percent of the river is ice-covered, which means fewer ducks and geese for the eagles to eat.

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