We are sorry to let everyone know that Brett and his assistants found D25 yesterday dead alongside a road between Maynard and Westgate, IA. He was likely scavenging a raccoon carcass when he was struck and killed by a vehicle. His body will be sent to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, WI for a necropsy. All of us find it heartbreaking to lose another eagle. It is one thing to know that first-year bald eagles have high mortality rates and another to see it reflected in the lives of eagles we have come to know and love.
We have tracked six eagles to date: D1, D14, Four, Indy, D24, and D25. All six grew up in a world heavily impacted by human beings. The fish hatchery provided an excellent source of food, shredded cornstalks provided insulation for the nest, and light and electrical poles provided perches for fledgling eagles just learning their wings. But poles also present electrocution hazards; powerlines, cars, and buildings present collision hazards, and everything from gutpiles to landfills to confined feedlots present a route for potential toxins that can maim or kill scavengers. I want to believe that we are making headway in reducing electrocution, poisoning, and collision deaths. Certainly, bald eagles as a species are thriving. But it still hurts to lose an eagle we know.
How did Brett know there was a problem? Sensor data was static, D25's location hadn't changed significantly, and the area was not one in which Brett expected an eagle to stay for an extended period of time. After finding D25's body, which he was able to locate because the transmitter was still working, Brett decided to check on D24, who was about 40 minutes away near New Delhi, Iowa. We are pleased to report that D24 is doing well.
As one of our Decorah Mods, Pyrmum1 said, "May D25 fly high with the other offspring from Mom & Dad Decorah taken too soon".
The photo of D25 making early morning takeoff was taken by David Lynch at 5:40AM on June 28, 2016. Thank you to David Lynch for sharing his lovely photo and to Brett Mandernack and his staff for sharing their data. Through Brett's study, we have learned that power infrastructure, agriculture practices, collisions, and habitat change/loss all contribute directly to deaths of Bald Eagles. These lessons can be terribly painful, but they also enable us to preserve and protect raptors. Whether it is by driving slowly, picking up trash, reporting collisions and electrocutions, advocating for safeguards on power lines and poles, using lead-free ammo and tackle, preserving habitat, or sharing information with family and friends, thank you for doing what you can for birds of prey.