The 2019 mid-winter bald eagle survey in the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge has been postponed as a result of the ongoing partial government shutdown.
Four of the 14 routes used by volunteers pass through gated areas of the preserve — which is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — and are unavailable during the federal shutdown, according to an email from local volunteer coordinator David Marsh.
The U.S Army Corps of Engineers, which coordinates the annual survey of the formerly endangered species nationwide, advised volunteers that the survey would still be viable if conducted by mid-February.
While Marsh said in the email surveyors are hopeful circumstances will allow for a mid-February survey, if necessary they will plan to survey along the 10 other available routes.
Last year, the survey tracked a record 81 bald eagles, 50 of which were along the four unavailable routes, according to Marsh. According to Marsh, the Corps requires survey routes and date ranges remain the same to provide year-to-year comparability of data, meaning the current plan may just buy time in hopes a full survey may be conducted.
Marsh said a record 48 volunteers had signed up for this year's survey and apologized for the delay.
"I am grateful to everyone for their desire to assist with all aspects of the survey," Marsh said.