From David Hancock:
(Written 2/14/11 at 10:30 a.m. PST)
What a night. So much concern about the Sidney Pa. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We still don't know that Pa is handicapped by the 'apparent' line, elastic or cut on his neck.
This AM I spoke with Harry and when he was carefully watching Pa yesterday and taking the fine detailed images, he was not certain that Pa is suffering from the indentations. Certainly the marks are disruptive of the feathers but how disruptive of the eagle's behavioral options we are not yet certain.
I have also spoken with Maj of Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society on the Island and she is of the same opinion as I: we don't like the looks but it does not yet look like a crisis situation. Our objective is to now try and prevent the crisis with minimal intrusion and work towards Pa being an active breeder this season. Maj also put me in touch with Angela Kendall of WildArc, the regional wildlife rehaber who would be responsible for the Sidney pair. Angela and I also had a good talk and review of the circumstances. She is part of this key notification group. The mutual key is to get some better assessment of any dangers and damage to Pa from anything that might be hanging around his neck. Is this apparent neck marking causing Pa problems?
Here is the tentative plan we are working on but this is open to comments and suggestions and ultimate approval by Ministry of Environment biologist, Sean Pendergast in Nanaimo -- who will be part of these notes to keep him informed. The key here is that we cannot interfere with the nest and we should do what we can to assess Pa's potential impairment -- if any. Then, if we come to a conclusion of impairment, we should develop a plan.
I see us needing to develop a duel strategy: try and get Pa to a place where we can better assess via personal observation and video and at the same time use these efforts to set up trapping him if he is in difficulty. Again, the assessment would not impinge on Pa being free but would allow us to gain some better observations and at the same time allow us to condition him to a site for trapping if necessary.
Here is my proposal at this time:
1. Harry and Ian, the ground team, will asap get a source of large fish carcasses (or road kills) and possibly get a location at a farm I have discussed with them, where this bait can be placed perhaps 50 - 60 feet from a fence and potential blind for observation and photography. The site is to be kept private and away from the public.
2. Daily as needed (or in the dark so the person is not seem) the carcasses would be put up for Pa. If Pa starts to use these then, only then, a canvas? will be placed over the fence to become a hide and better videos can be taken to assess Pa's health and vigor. This is highly likely since the pair have frequently taken road kills in the past.
3. Between the cam observations at the nest, random observations from the territory, and then hopefully close-up observations from this blind, we will be better able to assess Pa.
4. Should capture of Pa be necessary due to his deteriorating circumstance, this is authorized under the Rehaber's permits. I would attempt to hire a US bald eagle biologist who regularly traps eagles (in fact Mary and I are going out with him again shortly along the Washington coast to trap peregrines and eagles) and we would get him up here with his nets. We would work with the MOE through all this.
So in conclusion we thank all of you for your observations and concerns and we will try and keep you informed as to what is happening.
Any comments can be posted to the Forum and Karen, my coordinator, will keep me up on key elements. I will try and give some updates as we get this plan in order over the next few days.
As our locals know the area has an inordinate number of non-breeders hanging around southern BC -- they are still trying to find alternative food to the losses of salmon due to the almost non-existent or low salmon runs on most of the Alaska and BC coasts this season. A local farmer presently has 12+ juveniles + a resident pair of eagles feasting on a cow that died giving birth. This is obviously a welcome alternative when fish are scarce. Let's hope the upcoming herring and oolachin runs are high this year.