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Entries in eagles (7)


Solutions Sought to Reduce Hydrilla, Related Eagle Deaths

Sterile grass carp and herbicide applications are the preferred ways to reduce hydrilla, and, by extension, the death of bald eagles at Lake Strom Thurmond (Thomas Hill) on the Georgia/South Carolina border, according to a draft management plan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Since 1998, at least 81 eagle deaths there have been attributed to avian vacuolar myelinopathy (AVM). Scientists believe that the birds of prey contract the fatal disease from eating coots, which feed on hydrilla tainted with a toxic blue-green alga.

For five years, the Corps and other agencies have considered control measures for Thurmond, which seems to be Ground Zero for AVM-related eagle deaths. Other options included mechanical harvest and periodic drawdowns.

Of course, anglers are concerned that carp will eat  not only invasive hydrilla, but beneficial native vegetation as well. "What about the loss of fish habitat and the potential damage to the bass fishery and economic impact it has on the region?" said Gene Gilliland, National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S.

Public comment for the plan opened in late April, with public meetings scheduled for May in both Georgia and South Carolina.

AVM was first documented in 1994 at Arkansas' DeGray Lake. Since then, it has been the prime suspect in the death of hundreds of eagles, as well as thousands of geese, ducks, coots, and other birds. It's been confirmed at hydrilla-infested fisheries from Texas to the Carolinas.

“In places where dead eagles are found, invasive aquatic vegetation --- primarily hydrilla --- and the blue-green alga are always present,” said Susan Wilde at the University of Georgia, adding that the number of deaths likely is much higher than can be confirmed because scavenging animals eat the carcasses before they can be checked for the disease that seems to affect only birds.


Invasive Species Carnage: So We Won't Forget 

When I started writing about the threat posed by Asian carp years ago, I received an angry letter from a reader. He was 75 years old, he said, and he had seen carp in our waters since he was a child.

In short, he wanted to know why I was trying to scare people about something that “is no big deal.”

What I quickly realized was that he didn’t realize that I was writing about silver and bighead carp, which started spreading through our rivers about 20 years ago. He thought that I was referring to the common carp, which has been around for more than a century.

Now here’s the kicker: The common carp is an introduced exotic species also. But it has become so pervasive in our waterways that most people, including that reader, don’t realize that it’s also an invader.

They don’t know of the damage that it’s done by disrupting ecological balance in our fisheries, notably degrading water quality, crowding out native species, and uprooting beneficial vegetation.

Twenty or 30 years from now, will we also accept the damage done by Asian carp, zebra mussels, and dozens of other invaders as “normal”?

Maybe the following will help us remember:

Lionfish Gobbling Up Native Species

Originally from the Indian and Pacific oceans, lionfish now are spreading throughout the Caribbean, as well as up the Atlantic Coast. Likely they were accidentally introduced into North American waters by the aquarium trade during the 1990s.

Lad Akins of REEF, a marine conservation group says this:

"They are eating almost anything that fits in their mouth. The lionfish can probably consume in excess of half of its own body size. They can take quite large prey.”

And this:

"I'm an optimist but potential impacts of lionfish could result in major shifts in the ecology of our Caribbean and West Atlantic reef barriers. It could result in the extinction of some fish species."

Read more here.


Eagle Deaths Linked to Exotic Plant

Bald eagles are dying because of hydrilla, an exotic plant that can provide good fish habitat, but often becomes so dense that it smothers native aquatic species and prevents boating and outdoor recreation.

Most recently, eight eagles were found dead of avian vacuolar myelinopathy at Lake Thurmond on the Georgia/South Carolina border.  Eleven died there last year.

The disease is caused by an alga that grows on the hydrilla. Small birds consume the alga and, in turn, are eaten by the eagles.

Read more here.


Invasive Pythons Now Targeting Everglades Birds

Even as they decimate native mammals in the Florida Everglades, Burmese pythons also have begun feeding on birds and their eggs.

Researcher Carla Dove says this:

“This finding is significant because it suggests that the Burmese python is not simply a sit-and-wait predator, but rather is opportunistic enough to find the nests of birds.

"Although the sample size is small, these findings suggest that the snakes have the potential to negatively affect the breeding success of birds.”

Read more here.


Exotic Mussels Choke Off Access

Mounds of zebra mussel shells are creating barriers to boating, as well as blocking fish and fresh water flow in Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago.

One lakefront property owner says this:

"The channels have become where they won't be able to be used in a couple years. I bought my house because it has great access to the lake. If I can't get access, the property's useless."

Read more here.


First the Flag and Now the Eagle

Photo by Robert Montgomery

In its never-ending quest to atone for all of the evils perpetrated upon the world by the United States, the Obama Administration has granted permission to the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wyoming to kill the bald eagle, the symbol of our nation, for religious purposes.

Never mind that eagle feathers and carcasses are available from other sources, including a federal repository.

Earlier this week, we learned that Democratic Party headquarters in Lake County, Fla., has been flying an American flag with President Obama’s image in place of the stars.

Of course, chairwoman Nancy Hurlbert immediately used the default tactic so often employed by the Democratic Party these days when forced by public outrage to take down the flag, which happened to be in violation of the federal flag code, as well as state law.

“It leads me to believe that it's not about the flag," she told "Certain elements cannot accept Barack Obama as president."

No, Nancy. It is about the flag. No one’s face --- not George Washington’s, not Mitt Romney’s, and not Barack Obama’s --- should be put on the flag.

I’m not disturbed by whose face it was. I’m disturbed by the fact that some in the Democratic Party think there is nothing wrong with doing it.


Lead Fishing Tackle NOT a Factor in Eagle Deaths


Photo copyright Robert Montgomery

Just as those opposed to recreational fishing continue their assault via Catch Shares and Marine Protected Areas our oceans, they persist on the freshwater front by pressing for a ban on lead fishing tackle.

No research supports their charges that significant numbers of eagles, loons, and other birds die of lead poisoning from fishing weights. But they are not deterred by facts. Rather, they hope that their use of eagles and loons as “victims” will fuel an emotional landslide of support from the public and force government officials to bow to the pressure.

A ban on lead fishing tackle is not about protecting wildlife; it is a preservationist tactic to push us off the water.

But the emeritus director and founder of the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota just slapped preservationists upside the head with the truth in a letter to ProMED, a mail website maintained by the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

And it’s not just what Dr. Patrick T. Redig said. It’s what he didn’t say as well. In presenting the facts about eagle deaths from lead poisoning, he did NOT mention lead fishing tackle at a contributor.

In short, eagles are dying from ingesting deer and small game remains that are contaminated with spent lead ammunition. 

And, Redig adds, “As the annual poisoning event occurs from mid-November through March, a time when most waterfowl have left the shallow ponds where accumulated lead shot is available in the sediments, it is also quite certain that poisoning of eagles is not related to accumulated lead residues in waterfowl carcasses.”

That means that lead objects in the water, whether from anglers or waterfowl hunters, have nothing to do with eagle deaths.

Unintentional deaths of eagles are a tragedy, certainly, and the causes should be addressed --- now that we know the facts and can take actions that accurately address those facts.

Here’s an excerpt from his letter to ProMED:

“Our organization, The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, has been documenting and treating clinical cases of lead poisoning in eagles since the mid-1970s. Of the 120 or so eagles admitted every year for a wide variety of causes from 1974 to the present, some 25 to 30 were presented annually for acute lead poisoning; most of these eagles are beyond treatment and were euthanized.

“In addition, every eagle admitted, regardless of cause, is tested for lead, and over 90 percent have elevated lead residues in their blood during the hunting seasons. Clearly, eagles are exposed to a significant amount of lead.

“Extensive epidemiological monitoring and clinical evaluation (blood lead levels, radiographs, necropsies) of this phenomenon show that the source of lead is spent ammunition, especially fragments from high velocity rifle bullets and, to a lesser degree, shotgun slug fragments, buried in white-tailed deer residues, gutpiles, and
un-recovered carcasses.”

Meanwhile, environmental groups have presented a second petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a ban on lead fishing tackle, even though the agency rejected the first last year. Concurrently, some of these groups have filed suit, challenging dismissal of that first petition.

Go to Keep America Fishing to learn more about this issue, as well as the Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting Sports Protection Act. We need passage of this legislation to ensure that regulations related to fishing tackle are based on fact, not fiction. Also, send a message, telling the EPA that you oppose the proposed ban and encouraging your  representatives in Congress to support the act.


Eagle Deaths Expose Hypocrisy of Green Energy Supporters

The next time that you are maxing out your credit card to buy fuel for your boat and tow vehicle, here’s something to think about.

The same administration that is driving up gasoline prices with its refusal to allow drilling domestically and wants us all to drive Chevy Volts is giving a free pass to “green” power farms that are killing more than 400,000 birds --- including eagles --- annually.

By contrast, ExxonMobil paid $600,000 in fees and fines in 2009 for killing 85 birds that came into contact with crude oil or pollutants in uncovered tanks and waste-water facilities on its properties.

Finally, though, public outrage is forcing federal officials to investigate the deaths of six golden eagles at a wind farm near Los Angeles.

"Wind farms have been killing birds for decades and law enforcement has done nothing about it, so this investigation is long overdue," said Shawn Smallwood, an expert on raptor ecology and wind farms. "It's going to ruffle wind industry feathers across the country."

Read the full story in the Los Angeles Times. And check out this opinion piece on the issue at The American Thinker.

This is one American thinker who is fed up with the consummate hypocrisy of this administration and the environmental left. Obama’s energy policy is not about developing energy, it’s about demonizing the oil industry and rewarding a green agenda that is inefficient, ineffective, could not survive in a free market, and is killing hundreds of thousands of birds with impunity.

Where is PETA, where is the World Wildlife Fund, where is the Audubon Society, where are all of the environmental groups? They have been standing by, purposefully ignoring this tragedy because to do otherwise would be to shine one more brilliant spotlight on a failed energy policy and a failed administration that they still blindly support.