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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Lewis and Clark in North Dakota:
Wildlife Then & Now


Bald Eagle Past Bald Eagle Distribution Map of North Dakota Present Bald Eagle Distribution Map of North Dakota
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Bald Eagle

Lewis and Clark reported the bald eagle as common along the Missouri River upstream from Fort Mandan, and particularly abundant on that portion of the river above the mouth of the Little Missouri River and near the mouth of the Yellowstone River. Bald eagles primarily depend on fish as a food source. Historically, eagles were reported along the Red River and other major river systems, as well as along wooded shorelines of large lakes such as Devils Lake, Stump Lake, and in the Turtle Mountains. Eagle numbers declined dramatically in the late 1940s through the early 1960s with the pervasive use of pesticides such as DDT. With the banning of DDT, bald eagles have shown a slow but steady comeback. Today bald eagle sightings are most common along the Missouri River, particularly that portion of the river between Bismarck-Mandan and Garrison Dam.

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