South Dakota Bald Eagle Awareness Days         Bald Eagle Awareness Days
 
Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey Results
South Dakota Standardized Routes

Each year, South Dakota participates in an effort to count eagles in the lower 48 states. The effort is primarily directed at bald eagles, but counters also keep track of golden eagles. Although bald eagles winter at many locations in South Dakota, most congregate on the open waters of the Missouri River, particularly below the four mainstem dams. Because of this pattern, South Dakota's four standard eagle survey routes were established in 1984 on Lake Oahe, Lake Sharpe, Lake Francis Case, and the lower Missouri River to the state border.

The Midwinter Survey is not an exact count, but it helps in identifying trends in bald eagle winter distribution. High counts in South Dakota sometimes indicate that surrounding wetlands are frozen, forcing bald eagles to the only open water available. High counts might also indicate mild winter weather in the state, since severe winters may force bald eagles farther south. This cooperative effort is an informative and important conservation tool.

To learn more about the national Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey effort, visit the Snake River Field Station site.

Lake Oahe Lake Sharpe
  bald eagles golden & unk. eagles bald eagles golden & unk. eagles
year adult imm. unk. total total adult imm. unk. total total
1986 2 3 0 5   47 7 0 54 13
1987 5 1 0 6 0 88 0 0 88 11
1988 6 4 0 10 0 52 8 0 60 8
1989 3 6 0 9 3 86 18 0 104 17
1990 16 1 1 18 1 129 11 3 143 5
1991 10 9 0 19   32 18 0 50  
1992           5 4 0 9 0
1993           49 0 0 49 18
1994 1 0 0 1 2 51 27 0 78 3
1995 0 1 0 1 1 85 13 0 98 5
1996 6 2 0 8 1 89 13 0 102 12
1997 1 0 0 1 1 40 0 0 40 10
1998 3 1 0 4 3 34 5 0 39 4
1999 0 0 0 0 2 41 6 0 47 9
2000 1 0 0 1 1 12 4 0 16 3
2001 3 0 1 4 7 1 1 0 2 4
2002 1 1 0 2 5 20 1 0 21 10
2003** 5 3 0 8 10 12 9 0 21 8
2004 1 0 0 1 5 12 3 6 21 0
2005 0 0 0 0 0 26 3 0 29 4
2006 1 0 0 1 3 7 4 0 11 0
2007 6 0 0 6 1 16 18 0 34 0
2008 11 9 0 20 0 7 4 0 11 0
2009 8 3 3 14 0 32 3 1 36 0
2010 6 8 0 14 2 25 10 0 35 0
2011 4 7 0 11 3 35 10 0 45 1
2012 26 18 0 44 9 26 12 0 38 3
2013 14 26 0 40 7 71 24 0 95 1
2014 37 23 0 60 4 62 27 0 89 1
Lake Francis Case Lower Missouri River
  bald eagles golden & unk. eagles bald eagles golden & unk. eagles
year adult imm unk. total total adult imm unk. total total
1986 6 1 0 7 14          
1987 54 5 2 61 0          
1988 19 23 0 42 1          
1989 43 8 3 54 4 31 16 0 47 1
1990 2 0 0 2 0 26 5 0 31 0
1991 0 0 0 0            
1992 1 0 0 1 0 80 22 0 102 8
1993           5 4 0 9 1
1994 0 2 0 2 1 174 41 0 215 0
1995 0 0 0 0 2 123 0 0 123 12
1996 2 1 0 3 1 65 19 0 84 0
1997 7 1 0 8 1 88 27 0 115 5
1998 93 23 0 116 9 106 62 0 168 0
1999 7 4 0 11 2 143 90 2 244 0
2000 15 6 0 21 4 85 71 0 156 0
2001 2 1 0 3 1 53 68 0 121 0
2002 20 10 0 30 4 132 49 0 181 0
2003** 18 4 0 22 14 123 39 5 167 3
2004 16 3 2 21 12 75 22 0 97 0
2005 3 0 0 3 2 95 22 0 117 0
2006 3 1 0 4 0 39 11 0 50 0
2007 17 3 0 20 2 126 40 0 166 0
2008 13 3 0 16 2 114 44 0 158 0
2009 3 2 0 5 0 91 18 0 109 0
2010 5 0 0 5 0 85 23 0 108 0
2011 21 17 0 38 4 215 48 0 263 0
2012 66 29 0 95 7 199 82 0 281 0
2013 12 3 0 15 1 65 28 0 93 0
2014 23 12 0 35 2 47 12 0 59 0
Totals
  bald eagles golden & unk. eagles
year adult imm. unk. total total
1986 55 11 0 66 25
1987 147 6 2 155 11
1988 77 35 0 112 9
1989 163 48 3 214 25
1990 173 17 4 194 6
1991 42 27 0 69 0
1992 86 26 0 112 8
1993 54 4 0 58 19
1994 226 70 0 296 6
1995 208 14 0 222 20
1996* 173 34 0 207 22
1997 136 28 0 164 17
1998* 236 91 0 327 16
1999 191 100 2 293 13
2000 113 81 0 194 8
2001 59 70 1 130 12
2002 173 61 0 234 19
2003 158 55 5 218 35
2004 104 28 8 140 17
2005 124 25 0 149 6
2006 50 16 0 66 3
2007 165 61 0 226 3
2008 145 60 0 205 2
2009 134 26 4 164 0
2010 121 41 0 162 2
2011 275 82 0 357 8
2012 317 141 0 458 19
2013 162 81 0 243 9
2014 169 74 0 243 7

*includes additional observations
**portion of route 4 was not covered between Running Water and Gavins Point Dam

 

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Download an eagle brochure (PDF file) by clicking here. Brochures can be obtained from the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks at 523 East Capitol Avenue in Pierre, South Dakota 57501.  If you have questions or comments, email or call the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks at (605) 773-4229.