By Jeff Butts
Two adult bald eagles died on James Road in Point Roberts within a week of each other. One was struck by a car and the other died from ingesting lead. I fear these eagles were mates, and had they any eaglets, they would have died as well.
I received a phone call on May 9 that an eagle was on the ground, and I was asked to go check it out. When I found the eagle I immediately saw that something was wrong. The female eagle didn’t appear injured, but just stared straight ahead and seemed in shock.
The eagle’s wings were drooping, which was also a concern. I called OWL, the raptor center in Delta, which sent someone to pick up the eagle.
A neighbor who spotted it on his way to work told me, “The eagle had been there for three hours.” He didn’t know the eagle was in trouble. It would take another hour for OWL to get there. The eagle started coughing up blood and had trouble breathing.
As soon as the eagle was put in the carrying crate to be taken to OWL, it died. Our rescue efforts had taken too long. It was later determined the female eagle died of lead poisoning.
OWL has received 11 eagles this year with lead poisoning. They were able to save eight of them. “Time is of the essence,” said OWL’s Rob Hope. The female that was poisoned could have been saved had it been rescued earlier, or if the person using lead ammunition had used something lead-free.
A male eagle hit by a car on May 2 suffered a broken leg and wing, and was found in the middle of the road.
This would indicate a massive hit that killed the eagle instantly. Drivers in the forested streets of the Point should be aware that eagles use our roads to hunt as well, and might not see a car coming because of the trees along the edge of the street.
Eagles are expected to lose 70 percent of their habitat in the next 30 years, so places like Point Roberts are more important then ever. Bald eagles seem to be doing great to most people, but in reality they are losing habitat and being killed in many ways. In the last six months alone, 55 eagles have been electrocuted in the Fraser Valley.
Many people in Point Roberts know me as “the eagle guy,” as I’ve been active in trying to raise awareness about eagles since 2008.
I started Eagle Skyenet in April 2012, and my website, EagleSkyenet.com, Facebook page and YouTube channel, (EagleSkyeNet) have thousands of followers in the U.S. and Canada and over 50 countries worldwide. I permanently moved to Point Roberts in 2014 and started the Eagle Skyenet Research Center.
I spend most of my time working with eagles by monitoring their nests, walking trails and shorelines and documenting their activities. I often talk to people I meet on the trails to give them a basic understanding of eagles and how better to enjoy them.