12/30/2012 02:11 EST | Updated 03/01/2013 05:12 EST

Organizers of Brackendale eagle count worry for birds' fate

Organizers of the annual Brackendale eagle count are worried the birds are in trouble.

While the official count takes place next weekend, hundreds of eagles have already started to descend on the community near Squamish.

But Thor Froslev of the Brackendale Art Gallery says the numbers are down.

“We always thought about the eagles being our barometer on what was happening in the river,” he said.

“Then all of a sudden the salmon start to dwindle, and it's been under 1,000 for the last five years. And we wonder what's happening.”

It's not clear why the eagles aren't returning.

Froslev says at the peak of the count in 1994 nearly 4,000 eagles arrived in Brackendale.

Last year, only 655 were counted.