Each winter, the lakes in Lincoln County become home to about 20 bald eagles, who arrive in November from Canada, Wyoming and Colorado.
"We haven't done any monitoring the last couple of years," wildlife biologist Larry Cordova with the Smokey Bear Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest said Tuesday. "One area I wanted to monitor was around Bonito Lake and because we no longer have fish there, the eagles are no longer there for the time being."
The Little Bear Fire burned vegetation off the mountains in 2012, resulting in tons of sediment and ash being washed into the lake that served as a water source for the city of Alamogordo and Holloman Air Force Base, as well as a center for recreational fishing. The lake was drained to allow the estimated 50 feet of material on the bottom to be removed.
"The bald eagles that come here are from as far away as Canada, but the majority are from Colorado," Cordova said. "They winter here. Generally speaking, it is not as cold and the lakes do not freeze over. This is preferred habitat for them. They come most years in the latter part of October or the very first of November. Around Nov. 12, you can almost count on them being here like clockwork. They spend the winter to about the middle of March and then take off
"They like large bodies of water. Now that we have the catfish and trout (stocked) in Alto Lake, they are going to be there."