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kill an eagle, go to jail

Posted by dirtgirl So. Illinois (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 24, 06 at 20:02

That's the sign I'd like to make and drive into the ground out in front of that big old nest over there in the fencerow...except that I fear I may be too late. It has now been two weeks since either one of us have seen anything of the eagles and I have a very bad feeling growing in the pit of my stomach. I don't want to sound overly reactionary, but I have feared for their safety here ever since they arrived, and especially since they decided to build right next to the highway. Initially I thought that this location might actually increase public awareness, like getting the local gradeschoolers to "adopt" the birds and do reports on their progress. But it is the ignorance and narrow-mindedness of others that has me concerned. There have been all the quiet joking comments about how much each one of them cost the taxpayer (?) but that is where the joking ends. I have had more than one well-meaning neighbor pull up to me while I was out in the yard and ask if they could shoot my hawks. One actually told me he was "waging war" on them because of the lack of rabbits and quail to hunt. I told him in so many words where the war would be if he did anything to harm any of "my" birds. This is not a rare thing here. Hunters and farmers can and do shoot anything they see as a 'threat' to their hunting, their stock, you name it. And if they will shoot a hawk, realizing that they are protected, they would shoot an eagle if they thought they could get away with it. ANd this is easy enough to do given the fact that I think our area only has something like two or three conservation officers to patrol thousands of square miles.
A local paper has plans to run a story about the birds and I called to make sure they included the usual blurb about protected species and all, and I asked if anyone had actually gotten recent photos...no one could tell me anything with certainty.

My husband was asking me if it was possible that the female was actually on eggs in the nest and therefore hidden from sight, and that we were just not there to see the male coming and going. I don't know.
I only hope this is the situation but I don't think it is. Where aRE THEY??


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

Hi Dirtgirl,
Is it possible that they made the nest, but decided it wasn't the best location? I know some smaller birds do that alot, but don't know if bald eagles do that. I know you must be sick, thinking that maybe someone hurt them.


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

DG: Good new.......I think. I just looked up the eagle webcam in Connecticut and they say the eggs don't appear until mid March. Maybe the pair has just built the nest and is off hunting most of the time. I know when I have birds nest here, sometimes they build and then leave for the better part of the day most days. This goes on sometimes for days or weeks before they lay an egg. I hope that is the case here.

It may not hurt to contact the US Fish and Game in your area. If they know there is a nest, maybe they will be extra vigilant in the area. I wonder if some signs can be posted about the legal implications of killing eagles? Locally, we have an eagle nesting area in a state park, and it is cordoned off during the nesting season. This is done complete with signage about the law.

Here is the link for the Northeast Utilities webcam. If nothing else, you can watch this and live vicariously through this nest. I hope you are wrong about someone having taken out the eagles. Deep sigh........

Here is a link that might be useful: Eagle Nest Cam


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 26, 06 at 11:10

Every winter, eagles congregate on the Wisconsin River, just downstream of the hydroelectric dam at Sauk City. There is open water, and they can find fish there. The locals have adopted the eagles, and promote winter tourism around the theme of "eaglewatching days." I'm not sure how much increased business they see, but every little bit helps. Since the whole town is involved in this, I would guess that anyone who harassed or harmed an eagle would be reported and prosecuted. A few miles west of Sauk City, there are several limestone bluffs on the north shore of the river, where the eagles nest every spring. The trail is closed during nesting season, but later in the year you can walk in there and climb the bluff for a spectacular view of the river and countryside. So, there are a few places where eagles are welcome, and relatively safe from human harassment. I'm not sure how this was accomplished, considering that there is always tension and distrust between the DNR and the public. Right now, we are fighting over proposed regulations on wintertime manure spreading, and also proposed buffer zones along streambeds, where cattle would be fenced off and prevented from entering the streambed. As you can imagine, both proposals mean extra expense for the affected farmers. But it's not just farmers who tangle with the DNR. We are also in the middle of a debate over regulations regarding docks and floating docks. Some homeowners with shoreline property are building very large docks, complete with awnings and tables, where you could throw a dinner party. The state is trying to define and restrict the size of a dock, and not everyone is happy about the new rules.


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

Yep, there's always a rub, isn't there. The superintendent and a crew of DNR workers gets out to our area about every day working on various projects and he said they saw the birds quite often at one lake in particular, which up until the weather warmed a bit was the favorite refuge spot for a large flock of snow geese. This is all and good until you also factor in that a farmer just adjacent to the lake has recently leased out a field to a group of goose hunters. These fellows went to considerable expense and trouble putting up their set of decoys, which must number in the hundreds. Goose hunting is a large draw south of here but in this county it is just getting started. The site superintendent was telling me that he came through one day and an eagle was sitting on top of a snow goose and the rest of the flock was in the process of getting the hell out of Dodge. Now, like I said, I am not pointing an accusatory finger at the goose hunters, but their pit is directly along the flight path the eagles use to get back and forth to their nest, which is only about a half mile from this long narrow lake. It would be painfully simple to sight in on an eagle and bring it down without anyone even noticing, especially when they seem a bit naive about humans. If these guys have the same feelings of entitlement to "their" geese as a lot of hunters seem to have around here, then I am sure that the thought that these birds are ruining their chances at a filled permit has crossed their minds. So maybe I am SUGGESTING an accusatory finger be pointed? I know, I know, I am letting my prejudices rule my logic, and there is no evidence to suggest ANYONE has done ANYTHING..... I just DO want these birds to have a shot at things, you know??
I also spent a bit of time on the phone with a chatty fellow from the regional DNR about the birds getting a foothold in the tri-county area, and he told me there is a biologist keeping tabs on the other three nests to the county just to my west, one of which is handily situated a mile to the south of my parent's house.
THese two birds have also spent the winter in the area around their nest since the lake stayed open all winter, but unlike our pair, mom and dad see their birds all the time.
My other thought is, and remember I am no expert, is that from what I have heard they will continue to use the same nest for years and years unless they are driven off, the tree falls, or one of the pair dies. So why would a pair go to the trouble to construct such a huge nest, using valuable calories and all, only to abandon it when the spring comes?


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

OK, OK DG, I will admit that it does appear that something happened. Keep a positive thought though. You never know with birds. I have lost males for a time and then have them miraculously show back up. I'm trying to be optimistic here though. Keep us posted. I'll try keeping a good thought.


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

DG: Any word on this? The other day when I was driving up the highway, I saw two huge birds and then noticed white heads and tails. How nice that eagles are making such a comeback!


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

DG: Check this out. I saw this on the birding forum.

Here is a link that might be useful: Second man sentenced to 10 months in jail in eagle killing


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

I'm back....for the moment.Life has taken some really crazy turns around here lately and spending time on the little glowing screen is suddenly not something I have much time for.
HAVING SAID THAT...I'm back and I'M WRONG AND I LOVE IT!!!!I am very pleased to announce that not only are the eagles still in the neighborhood, they are IN THE EGG BUSINESS!!!! All the sources here locally kept saying that they would not stay around, but I also ran across a website that said they are kinda like robins...some do, some don't when it comes time to migrate. And since the ice never became an issue this winter I guess they felt no pressure to leave. The nest is absolutely huge, and when one bird is on the eggs (I understand they take turns)you can see next to nothing of it unless it sticks its head up to have a look around. I was standing at the "staring area" about a week back, field glasses in hand and was just about to give up and ride back home. Neither of us had seen anything of the birds in nearly five weeks. Just as I started to drop the glasses I was startled as a big blur of dark brownish black obscured the uppermost part of my field of vision, and I panned upwards just in time to see one of the birds swoop in from directly above me . It had very likely sailed right over me while I stood there totally unaware. I was amazed to see something large and brown hanging in its talons. I never could see exactly what it was...I am guessing it was rather big for a muskrat but maybe a beaver or a groundhog, if they even eat those things. I guess they would take whatever they had a notion to try for, along with the usual fish and waterfowl they love. Whatever it was, the eagle dropped it promptly into the nest for its mate and swooped down to another tree along the perimeter.
I am so fortunate to have this so close to my house...and they are staying here!!!


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 16, 06 at 9:44

Great news, DG. I have been checking this thread every day or so, wondering about the fate of the eagle pair. We are back to winter here in Madison, it is snowing at the moment, we have about an inch, with four more inches predicted.


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

You are SO LUCKY to have Bald Eagle's where you can see them regularly. I hope someone has not harmed them. I do not think you are overreacting at all.

I live in Alabama and we only have Bald Eagles in Guntersville...(as far as I know)

I have never seen one in the wild...


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

Thanks for the support, Scandia. Sometimes I get to thinking that maybe I don't give people enough credit, that most of the people around here are not as bad as I make them sound and that most of them in fact really do love the wonders of this area as much as I do. Then I read in the paper where a boy with a .22 shot some trumpeter swans at a lake (just 'cause he could?), or see someone swerve to hit a turtle or snake on the road in front of me...or talk to my neighbor about the hawks he has shot. Several years ago there were two or three albino or partially albino deer a few miles from here. It wasn't a widely publicised thing but the locals knew about them. Then one of them turned up dead in a farmer's field, shot and left to rot. Why?
It only takes a takes a few instances like this to seriously smudge one's rose-colored glasses.

My next fear for our eagles is that if the pair is successful and does raise a single chick, for the first several years of its life it won't look anything like a mature bald eagle but more like a golden eagle. Seeing a bald eagle is strange enough to us but I can assure you that not too many people will be glancing upwards one day, say to themselves "Hmmm, large golden-eagle-like bird, but out of common range for a golden...must be a juvenile baldie..." The ones I worry about will stroll back into the house, tell the wife they saw a buzzard in the fencerow and head back out to the pickup with their scope and rifle before take care of it before it starts hunting "their" rabbits.


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

Dirtgirl: I completely understand and agree with your mindset on this. My neighbor has 100 acres of lovely mature woods with trails winding through it. He lets me ride my horses back there..It is rumored around here that he has giant trophy bucks and an albino buck back there. Yes I have seen the giant bucks and the albino, Glorious to see but not to kill...Our deer are white tails transplanted from Wisconsin. DDT killed the native species in this state. (sad) My neighbor has NO HUNTING signs all over his property but he catches hunters back there all the time.
One day I was riding my WHITE HORSE back there and spotted a hunter aiming at me..NO KIDDING..I just started yelling at him. Called him a duma**..He said "I almost shot you I thought your horse was a deer" Honestly hunters and gun owners should have to take a IQ test to qualify. Yep he almost bagged a Giant WHITE HORSE DEER with a person on it's back..OMG!!!!

I also agree that there is no purpose for shooting wildlife.
And/OR giant white horse deer with riders...(smile)


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

The things you see when you don't have your uzi with ya!


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

Sorry about that. I just get so frustrated with mankind.


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

Well, we probably shouldn't get started on the whole hunting vs non-hunting thing because it is too complex and volatile a subject. HAVING SAID THAT,if someone asked me what my stance was it would be simply this: I MIGHT be pro-hunting if everyone who hunted my property first filled out,in detail, a questionnaire completely profiling both their hunting ability and what level of awareness/respect they had for the animal and the life they were about to take. Only through this process of selection and elimination would I allow people to hunt my land, but since that is basically just a pipe dream, and since I know too well the reality of what kind of people hunt near me, I generally utter the word "hunter" with a curled upper lip.

The sadness of this situation is that, once again, it's due to human intervention that the predators are no longer here, the deer are everywhere in unnaturally inflated numbers, and the ecosystem is starting to show the strain.

And by the way, Scandia...I had a similar experience with a hunter myself in my own woods. A hunter, a man I know, levelled his shotgun at my chest about seven years ago. I was less than 35 yards away and wearing a fuschia colored sweatshirt because I didn't own any blaze orange. When he realized what he had nearly done he said he almost peed himself. I had always been indignant about the blaze orange rule...it was my property and there wasn't anyone allowed back there so by golly I was going to wear whatever I pleased. I learned a valuable lesson from that...I might have been right, but I would still have been dead. Now when I patrol my property I assume I am about to confront Larry, Darryl and Darryl and they all have coke-bottle glasses and can't see past ten yards AND I WEAR BLAZE ORANGE.


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

You could also chant "I am human don't shoot" (smile)

There is always that little fear that one of these idiots will shoot with the intention of killing and claim it was an accident..Or never be caught because there are no witnesses..

I am not a militant against hunting just hunter stupidity.

It is true we have A LOT of deer. There is plenty of food for them and it does not get anywhere near as cold down here as Wiscoonsin, which is the deers native territory. So they are THRIVING.

But no hunting means no hunting..The hunters just have it in there heads that my neighbors land is a sanctuary for deer and the bucks are trophies. If they could just get the trophy mentality out of there head we would all be safer.


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

Hey DG: How about walking around with music or something noisy on your boots? If it is hunting season, that will surely alert the game and the hunters may realize that they better hunt somewhere else because of the chance that you have scared all the game away. Of course, you won't see much wildlife either!


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

hey dirtgirl, maybe a little off the topic but not much. is it me, or does our dnr concentrate mainly on hunting programs than they do on any wildlife education or programs of type? wisconsin dnr has so many workshops...i feel we are missing things here.

the eagles weren't as thick around the illinois river this year since the water was so open, but i still see several!


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

Hey there, Toadmother.

You know, I have mentioned it before, the nagging, bittersweet feelings I have for the DNR. On one hand, it is directly through their actions that I even HAVE natural areas here locally to enjoy. I know there are programs through the DNR to encourage timber planting, prairie restoration, and others that might otherwise not be happening, but I still get this tickle in the back of my brain that it's all geared toward making hunting a marketable thing. I am not shut off to the fact that our economy and hunting ARE interrelated, but it shouldn't be the sole factor in planning these programs. I would like to think that maintaining a balanced, healthy environment is the primary focus, but.......


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

i coulnd't have said it better myself! perhaps there are some underlyiing issues as to why there aren't other program types here sponsored by dnr. i DO appreciate the windbreak program, riparian areas, and other grants they have to encourage wild areas. however, when i try to find information on the website, etc...it is all geared toward hunting and fishing. i guess they rely on private groups to do the other things...without being specific i know i am being vague! let's face it, the hunting brings in the cash flow, though not much in my opinion.

perhaps the district biologists hands are just tied on what they are allowed to do, or overworked. i don't know. it is just that i look at wisc. dnr website and see all the activities SPONSORED BY DNR. then again, we don't have some of the wildlife they track up there, but we still have our opportunities and resources if they would just organize them. maybe i just don't know where to look?

then, there is that tax on atv's set aside to give grants to atv recreation areas...big whahhhooooeee a few years ago on that one in my area. i still say our area is way to erosive to do that. however, if it isn't done, atv's are just used randomly everwhere. and, again, that is what is bringing in the money, not free access to wildlife walks, etc. not to mention the state cuts to idnr, both staff and funding!

on the flipside, plum island won out and is now set aside for eagle habitat! that was private contractor though, and i think it had absolutely no dnr involvement. all private funds and maybe a corporation??? can't remember.


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RE: kill an eagle, go to jail

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 12, 06 at 9:03

I haven't seen any eagles around here, but yesterday afternoon we found a turkey (hen) in our neighbors yard. She seemed calm and content, and did not mind being watched by a small crowd of people. I don't really expect her to stay-there are too many dogs getting walked every day. She easily flew up onto one of the houses, so I guess she can protect herself from predators OK.


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