The bald eagles are back again in huge numbers but the return is a mixed blessing for more than one reason.
Thousands of the iconic birds have already returned to the Harrison and Fraser rivers just in time for the annual Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival this weekend.
The massive returns means massive public interest and some folks get in the way of the natural behaviour of the birds, which David Hancock, the noted bald eagle biologist and founder of the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, said is a problem.
He also said the fact that the eagles are here means the salmon runs in the north, where they should be in November, aren't very successful.
"Normally the numbers don't really build until mid-December," Hancock told the Times. "They must have literally run out of fish [up north]. It's a little too early for things to be frozen under. When they come here the salmon are either under the ice or they are simply not in the river. A couple of years ago there were about 10,000 eagles because of no returns and it looks like the same thing."
The mouth of the Harrison River, where it feeds into the Fraser, is home to the world's largest gathering of bald eagles.
The raptors are drawn to the area by the millions of spawning salmon that travel up the Fraser River to tributaries, such as the Harrison River. The estuary is also home to trumpeter swans, ducks, seals, bears, coyotes, deer and the great white sturgeon.
On Tuesday, the release of a rehabilitated eagle into the wild took place in Harrison Mills.
Starting Nov. 17, the public is invited to visit different venues in Harrison Mills and surrounding areas. Prime eagle watching sites have been set up and various activities have been organized including jet boat eco-river tours, walking tours, interpretative tours, environmental presentations, displays by local artists and ancient aboriginal sites.
To continue the festivities, Tourism Harrison will host the Harrison Bald Eagle Weekend, Nov. 24 and 25. Highlights include a photography workshop by expert photographer Graham Osborne, and a talk by Hancock.
Additional activities events are scheduled in the region throughout December. For more information and the festival schedule, visit www. fraservalleybaldeaglefestival.ca.