Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

For Release: Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Boater Cooperation Needed to Help Protect Bald Eagles and Habitat Improvements at Strawberry Island

As boating season approaches, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) remind boaters to observe the signage, buoys, and various motorized boating restrictions in place around Strawberry Island in the Niagara River. The restrictions are part of an ongoing, multi-agency effort to protect critical Bald Eagle nesting habitat and to preserve recently installed habitat improvement projects at the island.

"We are extremely fortunate to have a nesting pair of Bald Eagles here in the Niagara River," said DEC Regional Natural Resources Supervisor Paul McKeown. "We need your help to ensure that their critical nesting habitat is undisturbed and the ecosystem that they depend on remains protected."

Avoiding human disturbance at Bald Eagle nests is critically important to protecting the species and ensuring the success of nesting sites. Disturbance through noise or human proximity to nest sites can cause Bald Eagle nest site failure or even abandonment of nesting territory. In addition, high wakes, propellers and anchors from motorized boats can cause damage to wetland habitat planting projects and sensitive ecosystem areas.

Boaters can help minimize disruptions to the Bald Eagle nesting site by:

  • Observing all boating restrictions in place, including federal navigation laws that require maintaining a 5 mph speed limit while traveling within 100 feet of the shoreline.
  • Eliminating all motorized activity within 660 feet at the north end of the island's cove area by observing the restricted area marked with buoys.
  • Adhering to signage restricting any visitor access (including non-motorized vessels) within 330 feet of the north end of the islands cove area during the Bald Eagle nesting season that lasts from January to the end of September in a typical year.
  • Sharing this information with others who recreate in the Niagara River and Strawberry Island Area.
  • Reporting any observed illegal activity in the Strawberry Island area to DEC's 24 hour tip hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).

State DEC and OPRHP have collaboratively enacted a plan to protect the Bald Eagle pair nesting on Strawberry Island in the Niagara River. The plan includes a multi-year effort to restore wetland habitat at the island and to minimize the effects of motorized boating activity through the restrictions listed above. The wetland restoration project, which began last year, will be ongoing through the end of 2017.

Law enforcement divisions from OPRHP, DEC and the Erie County Sheriff Department are cooperating in the effort to enforce restricted area rules in place to protect the Bald Eagles and habitat projects at Strawberry Island. Visitors to the island are reminded that any repeated disturbance to Bald Eagles by humans is unlawful under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and under the State Environmental Conservation Law.

The Bald Eagle, currently listed as a threatened species in New York, continues to make a remarkable recovery across the state. New York State was instrumental in the restoration and recovery of the Bald Eagle in the northeast United States and continues to play an important role in providing suitable habitat for our nation's symbol. More information about Bald Eagles can be found on DEC's website.

For more information please contact OPRHP: Angela Berti | (716) 278-1764

  • Contact for this Page
  • Megan Gollwitzer
    Office of Communication Services
    270 Michigan Avenue
    Buffalo NY 14203
    716-851-7201
    email us
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to Region 9