The eagles have banded

Wildlife News

By Jim Sutherland


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LAST SUMMER, we traded houses with a nice Scottish couple and their two young girls. The whole family was impressed by Vancouver, but especially by the preponderance of very dangerous beasts. They read all about bears and cougars and, worse, heard about the wily coyotes who cruise our alleys hoping to pick off cats and small dogs (if not small children, as one attempted a few years ago). And they gained personal experience of the fearsome North American raccoon when one of the critters quite literally came in through the bathroom window and rampaged through the house. Later, when I learned they’d spent much of their time here with the hair standing up on the back of their necks, all I could think was, good thing we didn’t send them 75 kilometres east to the Chehalis River estuary on the Harrison River. Yes indeed, because that would have put them in an area that’s believed to have the largest concentration of one species of predator anywhere on the planet.

OK, the predator in question is the bald eagle, and humans have nothing to fear from them, even skittish Europeans.

Nevertheless, it’s remarkable that an annual November count should turn up a thousand or so of the giant birds only a few kilometres from the commuter town of Mission when that’s how few lived in America’s lower 48 states as recently as the 1960s. No wonder some locals decided in 1995 to launch what’s become the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival. I’m being a little catty here, but I’m told that similar festivals in eagle-deprived America make do with a nesting pair or two.

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