Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Bald eagles: Don't feed them, DEEP says

Photo by Melissa Nicefaro
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says in a release that: "feeding (bald) eagles can be detrimental and the activity is expressly prohibited by both state and federal law."
“Providing an easy meal to wildlife during cold weather may seem like a good idea, but often has unintended consequences,” said Rick Jacobson, DEEP Wildlife Division Director, in the release. “When bald eagles concentrate around a food source, birds will often fight over access to the food. Mature adults have been known to attack juvenile birds to drive them away from the food source.”
Read about the eagle pair recently spotted in New Haven here. Read about the eagles that lost their egg due to high winds in Milford here. Here is an update in the New Haven eagles, posted on March 4.
The DEEP release also noted: "Bald eagles are armed with strong bills and razor-sharp talons, and fights over food can result in exhaustion and severe injuries, both of which can decrease an eagle’s chance of survival over winter and limit fitness entering the spring breeding season. Additionally, long-term feeding can cause birds to look to humans as reliable providers of food, and also alter how far juvenile birds disperse from their birthplace."
“Bald eagles will readily pick up cues from other eagles and travel long distances to food sources,” said Jenny Dickson, DEEP supervising wildlife wiologist, in the release. “Artificial feeding or baiting eagles for a closer view or better photograph interferes with the birds’ normal feeding behavior and promotes habituation and increased competition. It also encourages increasingly brazen behavior, which can ultimately put these majestic birds at risk.”

Further: "Bald eagles are protected nationwide by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which explicitly prohibits activities that result in injury to an eagle or disturbance by interfering with normal feeding behavior. Connecticut General Statutes 26-93 also prohibit disturbing a bald eagle. Violations of both laws carry the potential for fines and imprisonment."
 Anyone who observes illegal feeding of bald eagles should contact the DEEP Environmental Conservation Police Dispatch at 860-424-3333 immediately, the release said.
Editor's note: All information and the photo in this post were contributed. Click one of the buttons below to share it.

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