More Bald Eagles Have Died Mysteriously

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While we watched the live cam in awe as a hatched two babies at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., over the weekend, a mysterious bald eagle tragedy was unfolding a hundred miles away in Delaware.

On Saturday, someone phoned state officials after finding five disoriented eagles in a farm field in Sussex County.

Three of those birds died in transport after resuscitation efforts failed, and the other two were transferred to a rescue center. Another dead eagle was found a mile away.

On Sunday a fifth bird was discovered dead and another injured when investigators went back to the field for a follow-up look.

This is one of the eagles recovered in Delaware over the weekend. The cause of death of five of the birds is uknown. Photograph by DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police

This comes about a month after 13 bald eagles were discovered dead—not of natural causes—on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, just 30 miles away.

Investigators haven’t determined how the most recent batch of birds died. “We’re not at that point yet where we know the cause of death,” said Catherine Hibbard, a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is investigating the case along with the Delaware Natural Resources Police.

The bird carcasses will be sent off to the federal forensic ornithology lab in Ashland, Oregon, to determine the cause of death. As of now, officials haven’t found a connection between this weekend’s incident and the Maryland deaths. “But if anything from the investigation suggests that, we’ll look at it more closely,” Hibbard added.

This bald eagle is one of 13 found dead on a farm in Maryland in February. Photograph by Maryland Natural Resources Police

To Hibbard, the death of as many as 13 bald eagles was shocking, but it’s not as surprising for a smaller number of the birds to turn up dead. In recent years on the Eastern Shore, officials have found a few eagles killed by landowners had put out to eliminate foxes or other animals,” she told National Geographic last month.

But overall, the picture for bald eagles has been brightening, as we wrote in February:

The national symbol of the U.S., bald eagles were nearly wiped out by hunting, , and habitat loss in the 20th century. However, they have rebounded in recent decades thanks to strict protections and banning of DDT, which caused their eggshells to be too thin. Bald eagles were officially removed from endangered and status in the U.S. in 2007, although they are still protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

If people are ultimately convicted of causing the death of the eagles, they could face a fine as high as $100,000 and prison time up to one year as a result of those acts.

“After all that’s been done to get bald eagles off the list, it’s disturbing to see these eagles die,” Hibbard said.

This article was first published by National Geographic on 21 Mar 2016.


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Esteban Nada


Nina Rogereau

Stop à la cruauté animale !!

Marilyn Leybra

This is nothing more than a nuisance for US F&WS, notice spokeperson Ms Hibbard switch subject to 'edjubicating' us on the bald eagle comeback from road to extinction via hunting & DDT poisoning. Either they make it illegal for landowners to lay out poison bait for wildlife belonging to all of us in this land or birds have as much chance as bees & bats do from pesticides poisonings.

Marilyn Leybra

"In recent years on the Eastern Shore, officials have found a few eagles killed by poisons landowners had put out to eliminate foxes or other animals." So those same officials & USF&W know exactly what's killing eagles. They have to go to 'western shore' do determine which poison landowners use?" The bird carcasses will be sent off to the federal forensic ornithology lab in Ashland, Oregon" Why do they allow landowners to poison wildlife? They fine a landowner or send to jail for "illegally" raising an orphaned deer or squirrel but not "illegal" for a landowner to indiscrimintely poison wildlife?

Maria Manuela Lopes

Horrible and Disgusting

Helen Digges-Spivey

A number of years ago the I 4 corridor near Orlandoi upped their speed limit to 80 mph. And when I drove over to a meeting in Orlando there were dead bald eagles at almost every island between the east and west roads. They fed from these islands but when the speed limit went up they didn't know to adjust their flight speed and were killed. At least that is what I believed.

Marilyn Ashman

Heartbreaking 🙁 <3

Susannah Gelbart

Put a body camera onone or more of them. This MUST be stopped, now!

Linda French

If poison is the cause put out by farmers the answer is simple. Stop putting out poison! Poison should not be used to KILL any animals that being foxes, ground hogs…no animal at all. What the hell is the matter with these farmers. Make it illegal..period…if bald eagles are dying you can bet other birds are also well as other animals…

Heidi Bresilge

It is not much of a mystery at all. SOme horrible human/humans have been using poison again. Makes me sick and sad!! These eagles are not the only innocent victims, I'm sure. Awful!!!

Anne Grice

This is horrible! Humans are too reckless and dont think about the consequences for their actions when using pesticides! This sad for these birds!