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Birds and cattle star in Eagles and Ag event

by Jo Rafferty

People with a variety of interests are attracted to the Eagles and Agriculture Tour each year, including those who admire birds, those who want to learn about the importance of agriculture in the Valley and people with an interest in both.

Those in the know are hoping for a little colder temperatures, since the colder it is, the more chance of seeing eagles.



“Eagles prefer colder temperatures. So do the cows,” said James Settelmeyer, whose ranch is featured in the Eagles and Agriculture bus tour. “When it gets colder it will force more eagles down in the area to get more food.”

The eagles and birds of prey – more than 13 varieties in the Valley – like to eat the afterbirth left on the ground after calving. Freezing temperatures can actually make a cow drop its calf faster because it is agitated, said Settelmeyer, whose family has ranched in the Valley since 1890.



This will be the fourth year the Settelmeyers have left their field open along Highway 395 until right before the tour, when they move in the cattle. The location is convenient for buses to stop at and for viewing the eagles. Although it takes some planning, Settelmeyer said it works to their advantage since the field is left untouched and is drier than the pastures the cows have been grazing in. The dry, clean field makes a good birthing area.

At the same time, bird enthusiasts can enjoy an abundance of birds. The tour offers participants a chance to see birds of prey from vantage points not available to the public. Riders can expect to observe eagles, hawks, falcons, owls and a variety of other bird species. Last year, 428 birds of 39 species were spotted.

“I think a lot of people move to Carson Valley because it’s so beautiful,” said event coordinator Dan Kaffer of Western Nevada Resource Conservation and Development. “The beauty is exemplified by bald eagles.”

Kaffer said approximately 700 people will participate in the event throughout the week. More than 22 different organizations are involved, including agriculture, bird-watchers, county, state and federal groups. Sen. John Ensign is the event’s honorary chairman.

“The funds raised are used to promote the event and toward conservation projects and to encourage ranching and wildlife habitat,” said Kaffer. “Our goals are to demonstrate the importance agriculture plays in Carson Valley. Water spreads out over ranch land. There are lots of problems in Reno where water has no place to go. Agriculture is the best use of land on valley bottoms. We need to encourage and support agriculture.”

n Several ranches are visited during the tour on Feb. 25. Tour buses leave from Carson Valley Inn in Minden at 8 a.m. and return at about 11:30 a.m., followed by a buffet lunch at Carson Valley Inn. During lunch participants are given the opportunity to discuss their experiences and sightings. Guides who are experts on Carson Valley history and wildlife are narrators during the tour. The cost for Saturday’s tour and buffet lunch is $45. Reservations are still available.

n Additionally, there is space available for the Friday night, Feb. 24, opening reception featuring Nevada director of bird conservation Don McIvor, author of “Important Bird Areas of Nevada,” Golden Gate Raptor Observatory director Dr. Allen Fish, and raptor experts Gene Landfather with a falcon and Mark Moglich with a peregrine falcon. The cost for the reception is $25, which includes hors d’oeuvres and a no-host bar from 6-9 p.m.

n Photography workshops will be conducted by wildlife photographer Robin Wilson. Beginning photography workshops are offered 3-6 p.m. Friday and 8-10 a.m. Saturday; intermediate photography is offered 3-6 p.m. Saturday and 8-10 a.m. Sunday. The cost for photography workshops is $50.

n Raft/canoe trips down the Carson River are available Saturday and Sunday. The river rafting trips begin at 10 a.m. in Genoa and end at Cradelbaugh Bridge. This is an opportunity to take wildlife photos while being guided by Great Basin Adventures. The cost for each rafting trip is $75.

A locals’ day and owl prowl tour are currently sold out; a waiting list is available.

In conjunction with the Eagles and Agriculture event, there is a photography contest where $200 will be awarded for the best eagle photo and $50 for the best agricultural/wildlife photo taken in Carson Valley. Photos must be submitted by March 10 to the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Authority. Photos should be 5 inches by 7 inches or larger and also be on CD if available. A photo release must be signed for eligibility.

Application forms to attend the events during the Carson Valley’s Eagles and Agriculture Tour are now available at the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Authority in Gardnerville or at http://www.visitcarsonvalley.org

Sponsors do not guarantee wildlife sightings and events are subject to weather and may change without notice. All tours and events are staged at or hosted by the Carson Valley Inn.

For more information or hotel room rate offers, contact the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Authority at 782-8144, (800) 727-7677, or via e-mail info@carsonvalleynv.org