Two eagles electrocuted in Alaska

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,News coverage — posted by admin on February 12, 2011 @ 3:18 pm


Not one, but TWO electrocuted eagles in Alaska!  See the Kodial Caily Mirror for info on the second, unbanded, eagle.

Here’s an example of what is likely to happen if they build the CapX 2020 transmission line across the Minnesota River — eagle, extra crispy:

Leg band confirms electrocuted Kodiak bald eagle was Alaska’s second-oldest on record

By DAN JOLING , Associated Press

Last update: February 11, 2011 – 10:12 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A Kodiak Island bald eagle survived 25 years of Alaska hazards but met an unfortunate fate last month on the crossbar of a utility pole: electrocution.

A band attached to its leg showed the bird to be the second-oldest bald eagle documented in Alaska and one of the oldest in the country.

“It would be, based on the bird-banding record that I’ve seen, one of the top 10 oldest birds ever recorded,” said Robin Corcoran, a wildlife biologist from the Kodiak Island National Wildlife Refuge.

The eagle’s death was first reported by the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

The death was of high interest to raptor biologists, who have no other way besides recovered bands to confirm the age of mature wild eagles.

“Once they reach that full adult stage — white head, brown body, white tail — you don’t have any idea how old they are,” said Steve Lewis, coordinator of raptor management for the Alaska region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The oldest eagle documented in the country was a 32-year-old bird from Maine. Alaska’s oldest recorded eagle was a 28-year-old from the Chilkat Valley outside Haines. Lewis suspects most eagles don’t approach three decades but proving that with leg bands can be haphazard.

“Banding is one of these things, you put a lot of effort into it and you get little return, but the returns you get are really interesting,” he said.

The odds of recovering a band go up around communities such as Kodiak. The city is on the island of the same name, the second largest in the U.S. The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge covers one-third of the island and has a resident population of 2,500 birds, but the city is a drawing card for other eagles.

Hundreds from mainland Alaska gather there each winter when lakes and streams freeze up. Eagles are opportunistic eaters, grabbing fish and small mammals, but America’s national bird is not above Dumpster-diving or feasting on other tidbits from humans.

“The canneries and fish process plants, the commercial fishing, it’s a real magnet,” Corcoran said.

Kodiak’s only road out of town crosses hills to the nation’s largest Coast Guard base.

“When you drive that road, there are easily, every day, one hundred birds, just on the hillside, sunning themselves in the trees if it’s sunny, or just trying to stay dry,” Corcoran said. “And then if you look down at the canneries, right on the water’s edge, there are another hundred, at least a hundred birds, perched on the cannery rooftops.”

A garbage bag in the back of a Kodiak pickup will attract winged intruders. Fishermen mostly are conscientious, she said, but boats will draw birds.

“Sometimes when the fishing boats come in, the nets are spun up on the back deck, there will still be some fish in there. The birds are all over the nets. You can see a dozen birds on one boat, just on the nets,” Corcoran said. “Usually they’re accompanied by Steller sea lions that are climbing up in the back of the boat to see what’s left on the back deck.”

Fish bait is another temptation.

“Yesterday there was some bait left unattended on the back deck of a boat and that caused a frenzy,” Corcoran said. “The birds ended up getting soiled and fighting over it, and then they fall into the water.”

Oiled by fish slime, feathers are less waterproof and eagles are more prone to hypothermia, she said.

Refuge biologists have retrieved starved eagles and birds killed by airplanes, cars or leg-hold traps meant for fox. Sometimes there are mass mortalities.

Fifty eagles in January 2008 spotted an uncovered dump truck filled with fish guts outside a Kodiak seafood plant. Twenty drowned or were crushed. The rest were so slimed they had to be cleaned.

The refuge last year sent off 30 dead eagles to the National Eagle Repository northeast of Denver. Thirty to 40 eagle dead eagles recovered is typical, Corcoran said.

The electrocuted bird was captured in July 1989 as part of research project into possible health damage from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which had occurred on March 24 that year.

“It was a beautiful older female,” Corcoran said. The power pole near a cannery had been fitted with two devices designed to protect eagles but it perched on the lowest of three cross bars where utility authorities did not believe there was enough room to alight.

Lewis said there may be a new candidate for Alaska’s oldest eagle. A dead eagle was found late last year on Adak Island in the Aleutians and may be as old as 29 1/2 years.

And from the Kodiak Daily Mirror, a report on this and other dead eagles, including ANOTHER one killed by a powerline:

Eagle that survived EVOS died last week, might be oldest in state

Article published on Friday, February 4th, 2011
By DREW HERMAN – Mirror Writer

A bald eagle that survived the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and died in downtown Kodiak last month may be the oldest member of his species ever documented in Alaska.

The eagle was already an adult when a team working in the aftermath of the spill banded it on Woody Island in 1989, Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge wildlife biologist Robin Corcoran said. That means it was at least 25 years old when it was electrocuted on a power pole Jan. 24.

The current official record for oldest bald eagle known in Alaska is 21 years, Corcoran said. In November a bald eagle struck and killed by a car in New Brunswick, Canada, was found to be 32 years, 10 months old.

The long-lived bird was one of many found dead around town recently.

“We had a busy eagle day yesterday,” Corcoran said Thursday.

On Wednesday, a kayaker reported finding three dead eagles in the same area of Uski Island in St. Herman Harbor. The kayaker recovered one and harbormaster staff recovered another.

Corcoran said both were juveniles. One appeared to have starved, while the other had been scavanged, making it difficult to judge cause of death.

Also on Wednesday an eagle was hit by a car and killed and another died by electrocution at a different power pole from the one where the banded eagle died Jan. 24.

Corcoran said the deaths do not appear unusual, especially at a time when eagles are thick in the area around town and competing for food. Accidental deaths and injuries occur from eagles getting hit by cars and caught in snares, although some cases remain mysterious. In 2010, there were 33 mortalities, 17 injured or sick logged by the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.

If there seem to be more eagles injured and killed, it may be because people know how to report them, and “We’ve gotten a lot better at responding,” Corcoran said.

She said anyone who sees a dead or injured eagle should call the Alaska State Troopers, but not try to help the bird.

“Even sick or injured they’re very fierce,” she said.

Also, it’s important to leave carcasses where they are found for investigation.

It is illegal to possess an eagle carcass or parts.

“We mail our frozen eagle carcasses to the national eagle repository in Denver, Colo.,” Corcoran said.

The repository distributes parts for legal purposes, including Native American religious rites.

Live, injured birds are sent to the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage for rehabilitation.

one comment so far »

  1. Of course this is what happens when people encroach on wildlife areas. I feel that these will go through wether we like it or not. Saddens me, and I hate seeing it. Just like cronic-wasting disease is now in the Pine Island area deer population. Just because some idiot at the Elk Farm (where confirmed CWD) did not close a fence and some deer got in amongst the elk. Now every deer within a 25 mile radius has to be destroyed. Just like at the elk farm, they used sharpshooters to kill every elk on the place. I have learned that the CWD does not go away when the animals do, and it stays in the soil for a long time. So why not sue the elk farm? For endangering the deer? Man does not know when to leave well enough alone. Glad I am old.

    Comment by Judy Lane — February 13, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

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