Thoughts on dumping out surplus fish or meat for eagles
Sunday, January 23 2011 @ 05:38 PM EST
Contributed by: Pat B
FROM DAVID HANCOCK:
Is this good or not good?
Possibly not, and certainly controversial for a number of reasons - but maybe OK if some rules are followed.
1) Dumping garbage could well be illegal in your city or municipality.
2) Is where you can dump it going to create a mess? A hazard to eagles? Remember, road kills and electrocutions from road-side power poles are still the largest two killers of eagles. You do not want to be contributing to this.
NOTE: I am always taking road-kills off the roads and placing them away from the traffic area to protect the scavengers -- eagles, hawks, crows, coyotes etc. The question that always concerns me is: can I find a place of less negative impact on eagles than on the roadside where I found the prey?
If you are placing fish or meat out the same concerns prevail.
3) Is the quality of the food good for eagles? Has it accidently been poisoned? Sometimes vets euthanize pets using a poison that will in turn kill scavengers -- a dreadfully bad and irresponsible habit of vets.
4) Another important contamination concern: moving fish carcasses from one watershed to another can transmit natural diseases to a new watershed and should be avoided.
The other side:
Our eagles are indeed scavengers, and if not picking up naturally dead salmon, road kills or natural winter killed animals, they certainly will congregate at dumps - refuse plants! - to partake of free food. This is the bald eagles' lot - they are scavengers.
I have never known a field biologist who would not throw out a small 'unkeepable' coarse fish to a nearby eagle. Of course the fish was from that eagle's habitat.
Many refuse centers have soil making plants that frequently place great quantities of far less desirable food scraps out so they are available to eagles, crows and gulls and no government agency interferes. Similarly, in most areas, no government agency wants to take on the responsibility of regularly removing road and farm kills so no scavengers are affected.
Since we humans keep taking food out from under the eagles' talons - our over-fishing of the seas - putting something back, a donation of a little food is really nothing more than making up for what we deprived them of in the first place.
So within in the rules of cleanliness, not depositing garbage or unhealthy food where it should not go, I see no real biological issue in occasionally replacing some of the food we first took from the eagles. I have dealt with this in more detail in "To Feed or Not to Feed".