Friday, May 27, 2016

Intervention at Decorah North Nest

As watchers at the Decorah North Nest know, female eagle Mom North brought some tainted prey into the nest on the afternoon of May 25th. She fed DN2, who promptly died, and ate some herself. Until we shut the cams off, horrified watchers saw a very sick Mom North struggling in the nest.

Neil Rettig and veterinarian Laura Johnson monitored the nest through a private channel. As the night passed, Mom North began to recover from whatever the prey had been tainted with. After she flew off the nest on the morning of May 26th, we knew we needed to make a plan to recover DN2. We wanted to autopsy the eaglet to determine the poisoning agent and prevent Mom from feeding DN2 to DN1 and killing DN1 as well.

The morning started with a call to Kike Arnal, who had climbed into the north nest last fall. Like Neil, he expressed some concern about going into the nest itself and recommended that we try to recover DN2's body with a hook or catchpole. Fortunately, Neil was available to climb. Several of us are versed in rope technique, but the North Nest is very tricky to access and Neil is the only one of us with tree spike experience, which he used to avoid potentially injuring the eagles with a crossbow bolt or line. While Neil, Laura, and Dave Kester made a plan, Amy Ries got busy working on the permit side of things.

Bald eagles are protected by a number of laws, including the Bald and Golden Eagle Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Lacey Act (introduced in 1900 by an Iowa congressman). It is highly illegal to trespass on an active bald or golden eagle nest or take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, transport, or export or import any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or egg. The penalties are severe and may include a fine of $250,000 or two years of imprisonment, which is doubled for an organization. Should we be found to have broken the Bald and Golden Eagle Act, we could also lose our banding permits, which would end our banding program. While these laws may seem harsh, they have been an important part of returning the bald eagle to the American landscape, and we had no intention whatsoever of running afoul of them.

Amy contacted Deanne Endrizzi from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Pat Schlarbaum and Bruce Ehresman from the Iowa DNR. She explained the situation and outlined our plan. We would recover DN2 without going into the nest and take the body to Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine for autopsy. The Iowa State DNR and the US Fish and Wildlife Service approved our plan very quickly and we were able to recover DN2's body yesterday afternoon. It is on its way to Iowa State University now. We don't know how long it will take for the results to come back.

Parent in tree
Dave retrieving DN2 from the catchpole
Why did you intervene?
We usually don't intervene in nest life. Wild birds survive and thrive in the presence of things that seem frightening and even awful to human watchers, including bad weather, predators, injuries, and aggression. Although humans found the death of DN3 appalling, it was completely normal eagle behavior. But poisoning is not nature taking its course and all parties agreed that intervention was appropriate and allowable in this case.

What happens next?
We are continuing to monitor the nest remotely, but the camera will remain off for live viewing for the time being. Mom has been in the nest with DN1, who has been fed and looks like a healthy, alert young eagle.

DN1 in the nest on the morning of May 27, 2016. 

Thanks to Neil Rettig, Dr. Laura Johnson, Dave Kester, Kike Arnal, John Howe, Deanne Endrizzi, Bruce Ehresman, Pat Schlarbaum, Allamakee county conservation officer Burt Walters, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Dr. Steve Ensley, and Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine for their quick action and help. Your advice and experience were invaluable!

We've had some requests for the last video shot from the nest before we turned it off. This video shows an ill Mom in the nest, as well as DN2. If you find it disturbing to watch, please do not follow the link. I witnessed the event and found it very disturbing: https://youtu.be/g4ZC72FurzE




67 comments:

Dianne Marks said...

Very comforting...deep breaths..thank you so very much!

emtlady said...
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janice stanton said...

Thank you very much for all that you do. Also appreciate the updates.

emtlady said...

DNN2 looked much bigger than I thought he would be, I guess the camera is a bit deceiving. I am hoping you get some answers and that this never occurs again. I also thank you for keeping us posted on what has been happening.

SC said...

Thank you so very much. DN3 was nature but DN2 was not.

Judy Shepps Battle said...

All of the folks you mentioned, Amy, including yourself are just awesome people!

Just being able to observe the fierce protectiveness that RRP and SOAR have had for raptor life for the past few years has both gladdened my heart and made me a better person.

Thank you and I hope one day we humans will absorb/incorporate even a fraction of your collective loving dedication and respect for avian life.

Deb Johnson said...

I am VERY glad you posted how many agencies, laws and "hoops" you had to go through, maybe people might understand now that there is no-"Just go get it" fix. The laws and guidelines are there for a reason-the fact our Raptors are coming back is proof WHY those laws had to be written and enforced. Great Info--THANK YOU for all the hard work by all!

NancyVaBeach said...

A huge Thank you to ALL involved!

Kathy Patrick-Seligman said...

So thankful to all of you.

Kathy Patrick-Seligman said...

So thankful to all of you.

bkmaurer said...

Bless you for all your hard efforts. R.I.P baby eaglet. 😢

bkmaurer said...

Bless you for all your hard efforts. R.I.P baby eaglet. 😢

Jane said...

What an amazing team you have at RRP!So many pieces had to come together for that to happen - and so quickly, too. Thank you for taking the time to fill us in. Kudos to all the Mods for their presence (and patience) with us on Facebook, as well. I hope you all have a chance to rest and recover this weekend.

Janet Constantino said...

Thank you so, so much for your support of these incredible animals. Sharing the 'why' and 'why not' with us avid followers keeps us close to your journey, and to these precious eagles. You're all amazing; thank you for your dedication.

Marion said...

What a fantastic job you all have done !

Decorah Pagent said...

Amy, thank you for always being timely, direct and forthright with important information. Pagent

Annie from Oregon said...

Thank you for a clear, comprehensive explanation of the process and reasoning involved. I am thankful RRP did retrieve DN2 for examination, which also prevented any further danger or trauma to our North family. I am grateful for each person involved and that they were able to safely resolve this crisis. I am so proud of RRP and its intelligent, experienced staff. Your collective work is immeasurable in its value. DN2 was a beautiful eagle and very special.

Mary Forbus said...

Thank you for the update and pictures . Maryclyne

Unknown said...
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Diana Rice said...

Thank goodness that mom was in the nest and safe when she became ill the outcome may have been much worse if she had been down on the ground and vulnerable to who knows what!

shearean london london said...

Thanks for making it possible for all of us to learn how eagles live and survive by watching the cam. May all of you to continue to protect our national birds and keeping them safe for future generations to love.

Jessy Lytle said...

thank u 4 all that u are doing and 4 removing the sweet one that passed as i too was so worried about them eating the one that passed. thank u 4 taking the time to keep us all updated on the family and i just pray that what ever it was, is GONE. Thank u 4 keeping us all updated. I pray that when u find out what killed the sweet one, u can let us all know.
Thank u 4 this cam,to get to see into the life of the eagle,to see just how hard it can be at times 4 them.

crystal said...

Thank you so much for retrieving DN2 before anything further happened to the parents or DN1. Our hearts are heavy with sadness but so relieved to know you were able to retrieve DN2 to prevent further possible illness...thank you so much. DN2, as DN3, were very special eagles....thank you for this blog and explaining the process and what is involved with getting approval.

Can't Touch This said...

Huge thank you to all involved. You jumped through all the necessary hoops at lightning speed. I am also grateful for the expert heads that were put together on this.

As sad as this event was, I believe much will be learned from it which will help us better protect wild eagles.

RIP little 2.

Sian Min said...

Thank you, Amy and RRP and the state and US wildlife agencies. Retrieving DNN2 possibly saved remaining eaglet DNN1 from a human-introduced hazard. I'm anxious to know the cause of DNN2's death and Mom North's illness.
RRP, you continue to do things right!

Can't Touch This said...

Huge thank you to all involved. You jumped through all the necessary hoops at lightning speed. I am also grateful for the expert heads that were put together on this.

As sad as this event was, I believe much will be learned from it which will help us better protect wild eagles.

RIP little 2.

Linda Ward said...

Thank you so much for everything y'all do. Nature is sometimes tough to watch, but we all have learned so much through RRP and the cams. Thank you, again, and again. Hugs to all y'all, such an awesome organization. RIP DN3 and DN2.

Pam Matthews said...

So many of us waited patiently Thursday for news. Once again RRP has shown their professionalism and regard for our eagles. Thank You for sharing this sad experience.

Deborah Kilgore said...

Thank you for a very detailed write up on what has occurred in the last 24 hours on the nest and with the eagles. It is great to know what the near term holds to with the necropsy to happen soon but also the knowledge that the camera might stay off for a few days more. Wise move while local folks hunt for the source of the poison.
Once you know what the poison is portions of the video might be useful for a presentation to the Iowa legislature, the Departments of Interior and Agriculture and Congress on the subject of regulating the source

gj5123 said...

Thank you so much - for what you do and the information you share. I have felt comforted by the blog postings. I am more determined than ever to be an even stronger advocate for keeping our environment safer and cleaner for all who share this planet. I also believe alot will be learned from this sad event and that we'll go forward - soar DN2 and DN3 - Thanks RRP!

Eva Vasquez said...

You guys at RRP are a class act, and so very competent at what you do. We, the mourners of Raptor Nation, salute you.

MrsLeif said...

I know we shouldn't interfere with nature but I started watching several nests this year and in my opinion, interfering sometimes is necessary.
Thank you so much for helping these beautiful creatures. Just like CROW is helping E8 in FL.

BLR said...
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Rosie said...

Thank you so much for all of the thought and care RRP provides in all circumstances, and for your timely information to all of us interested in this nest.

Trish Rehard said...

Thank you and God Bless you all!

Ulli Reiner said...

Thank you to the staff and team at RRP for your dedication to these beautiful and magnificant birds. We all learn so much in hopes of making us all more educated and more informed guardians for all wildlife! Blessings to you all!

Patti said...

Great Job. Thank you for all your hard work.

gramps said...

I have been hooked on RRP since the beginning, and the staff are very dedicated to the welfare of eagles and so enlighten with wit and wisdom. TY

gramps said...

I have been hooked on RRP since the beginning, and the staff are very dedicated to the welfare of eagles and so enlighten with wit and wisdom. TY

raven sanchez said...

Thank you RRP for all you did/do..for helping out and protecting the winged ones. I was taught as a child the Eagles fly above the storms and carry our prayers to the Great Spirit..also a big thank you to the climbers that risked life and limb with mama and daddy nearby..

raven sanchez said...

Oh and lets not forget Heckyl and Jeckyl at other Decorah nest..one sure is a camera ham..lol

Jo Dodds said...

Thank you so much for the blog. I did click on the video and it broke my heart.You acted so quickly. Bob would be so proud he left his legacy in very capable hands.

Sandy S said...

Thank you for the update and for all you do - I saw the events of Wed and have been praying that RRP would be allowed to remove DN2's remains before more harm could occur.
That said however we should also be aware that the same senario is most likely playing out on countless other nests that do not have the protection afforded DNN and keep those eagle (and other wildlife families) in our thoughts!

raven sanchez said...

It is good to see D1 and mama..thank you for turning camera on

Sharon said...

RRP - Thank you for all you do!

Louise Castello said...

Thank you for everything you have done for these beautiful Eagles. It was such a relief that DN2 was removed and, hopefully, you will be able to find out the cause of death. This family has been through so much and we can only hope and pray that all will be well and DN1 will be stronger for it all. It's been such an honor watching this cam and this family.

Patricia Rickenbaugh said...

Patrica Rickenbaugh said Excellent Job RRP! So glad you were able to recover DN2's body for necropsy. Happier that Mom seems in full recovery. Hoping this has little to no affect on the rest of her life. As a farmer I can fully appreciate and respect the "wild". The first year I had lambs, my take was about the same percentage. Thanks also for that final video. I think things like this help all of us be more aware of keeping our heart in our life towards all of creation. Looking forward to the live broadcasting to resume and hopefully you will share the results of the necropsy.

thenursisin1 said...

You guys are amazing, simply amazing. I have such respect for all of you. Such dedication to wild life. So respectful. I can't thank you enough for making a horrible situation bearable. Knowing you guys were at the helm put my mind at peace. Such tragedy for DNN....my first Eagle Nest to watch....but with all of you, it has been a truly enriching experienced filled with deep respect for your group.

Debbie said...

Thank you for always keeping us informed about the happenings at Decorah North and the original Decorah. I'm glad that Mom only fed DN2 and DN1 did not get any. Also, that DN2 was not fed to DN1 as well. Otherwise we may have lost the 3 of them. I'm anxious to find out what the toxin was and in what prey. Poor DN2 was doing so well that day, self-feeding and standing up to DN1 only to succumb at the hands of humans.

Mom said...

Why do the eagles in both Decorah nests keep shaking their heads? Do they have parasites?

camielmom said...

Thank you so much for everything you are doing. You are inspiring.

Merissa Medbury said...

Thanks to all who helped. Your tireless and selflessness is remarkable. Your our angels. Thanks for explaining how the process works and all the agencies and hoops you have to go through.

raven sanchez said...

Mom..they are plagued by gnats..poor babies

Denise Miller said...

I haven't seen DN1 being fed all day...mom came in, was shaking off gnats, then left...poor DN1...baby is full of gnats...could be Buffalo gnats, opportunisti gnats...all parasites are, but parasites only overcome sick hosts...RRP needs to get DN1 out and see what is happening, not just for the beautiful eagles, but for humanity!

Christine Humphrey said...

How fortunate it was that the mother was in the nest when she became so ill! This probably saved her life from other animals. We are so hoping for a good outcome from such a sad situation. Christine Humphrey

raven sanchez said...

Denise..mama was feeding baby a rabbit I think when camera was turned on...baby looks so little all alone..I know the gnats are horrendous right now..

PookieTheClown said...

This is the whole video of the mom in distress and the little one passing away: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z2Lu9pMDik It is very sad. I hope they find out the cause.

karen vrooman said...

Is DN1 ok? Saw dad bring a fish in and eglet sqealed, struggled to move closer to be fed, but unable. Dad ate fish and flew off. Eaglet seems unable to stand. Sad to watch. Is anyone noticing this too?

SusanS_In_Michigan said...

Thank you for all that you do and have done to try and make sense of what happened here. I hope you get the answers you need from the necropsy and that you're able to share all of that with us.
I too am amazed at how large DN2 was. I guess we just don't see actual sizes even although we know how big that nest is.
How much did DN2 weigh?
And, I was wondering if you'd tell us the gender too.

thanks again folks, you are simply amazing.

Susan.

Ulli Reiner said...

DN1 seems to be doing well but it is amazing to see so many gnats on him. I remember one season when the Decorah juvies were dealing with massive gnats and they all fledged earlier and most likely due to the gnat problem. Any chance to spray something that is natural as a deterent in keeping them off of DN1? I have never seen so many gnats on one animal like on DN1. He sure is trying hard to fight them off.....it is a losing battle though until he can get out of the nest but that wont be for some time. I worry he may leave too soon.....seen that before. Yikes.....can anything be done for him/her??

mammama said...

This has been such a heart breaking year. Decorah N lost DN2 and DN3. E8 in Fort Myers, FL nest got a fishing line wrapped around it's leg. They got permission and went up in a cherry picker and got it and took it to CROW. It recouperated and they put it back in the nest...... fast forward... The nest has fallen until there is very little of it left. E7 and E8 were sitting on a branch and an Owl knocked E8 off and he/she was lost for a week. They finally found it and it had a broken femur and dehydrated and a very sick little one. . It's back at CROW with a pin put in it's femur. It's started to get a little better each week.
None of the Dollywood eagles laid any fertile eggs ..... so no eaglets to watch this summer
I'm praying that all will go well with the rest of the eaglets and the eagles will return in the fall and renew their nests and have fertile eggs and healthy babies with no problems like there has been this year

Pat L said...

DN1 seems to panting quite a lot. Is this typical? I haven't noticed it at other nests.

Pat L said...

Will you post the results from the necropsy when they are available?
Pat

dorothy said...

I was wondering what the big wing was from in the nest of the North eagles?

raven sanchez said...

Dorothy....think its a turkey wing maybe..from this viewpoint

Brian Bicknell said...

https://whiningtonpost.wordpress.com/blog/

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