Bald Eagle Anniversary
This is a guest post written by Deborah Lee Rose
This August marks the 10th anniversary of bald eagles being taken off the Endangered and Threatened Species List. Bald eagle populations are increasing across the country, and today millions of people have the chance to see bald eagles soaring and nesting in the wild or even right in their own town. You can find out online where to watch wild eagles, or where to visit nonreleasable eagles near your home.
With more bald eagles in the wild, stories of injured and sick bald eagles are in the news. The new children’s book Beauty and the Beak: How Science, Technology, and a 3D-Printed Beak Rescued a Bald Eagle tells the true story—which made news worldwide—of one very lucky bald eagle. Beauty was first rescued and cared for at an Alaskan wildlife center, before she came to live permanently at Birds of Prey Northwest in Idaho. There, BOPNW founding director and raptor biologist Janie Veltkamp led the team that designed and 3D-printed a prosthetic upper beak to replace the part of Beauty’s natural beak that had been damaged.
What could you do if you spotted a bald eagle injured, or sick, and lying on the ground or walking unsteadily, unable to fly? According to Janie Veltkamp, who rehabilitates hundreds of wild raptors each year, including bald eagles, the best thing is for an adult to immediately contact a state wildlife agency or regional raptor rehabilitation center. Search “raptor rehabilitators” to find the contact nearest you.
Some of the reasons bald eagles get hurt or sick are because of their natural hunting and feeding behaviors. Eagles not only swoop down to capture fish to eat, they also hunt and scavenge land animals. You can help prevent bald eagles from getting sick or injured in several ways, Janie says. Always clean up your fishing line carefully after you are done fishing, so eagles won’t get entangled in the line. Avoid using poison to kill rodents anywhere that eagles and other raptors might end up eating the poisoned rodents. Also, by not using lead bullets for hunting, you can help prevent eagles from accidentally eating tiny bits of lead when they scavenge animals that have been shot.
Helping protect bald eagle habitat, including natural bodies of water and forests, is another important way we can all keep bald eagles from ever being endangered or threatened again. The health of bald eagles is a sign of the health of the environment we all share. You can find lots of information about bald eagle conservation in Beauty and the Beak, including special content from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Learn more about Beauty and bald eagles, and download a free educational guide to Beauty and the Beak, at www.birdsofpreynorthwest.org.