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Thread subject: Annapolis newspaper article/Blackwater Eaglet
Name Date Message
Melanie 05/06/05 04:32 pm
Cecilia 05/06/05 05:12 pm Thanks for the story Melanie.

It actually bothers me. I can't imagine why that Biologist would be taking that eaglet, who has to be very stressed given it's recent removal from the nest, to a school, or anywhere for that matter, besides the special new nest box that they were supposedly taking him to. It seems totally inappropriate and potentially risky. And what about not allowing him to become used to people? I do not think it was a good move on their part. They may claim that they are just doing good public relations but I think it was a mistake.
Celeste 05/06/05 05:26 pm I agree Cec......a lot of stress/excitement in 2 days for that eaglet......particularly as it was just taken from its nest and was on its way to Vermont. Also, I just read that the eaglet that was taken yesterday from Blackwater was not the youngest. They felt it was best to take an eaglet(the 2nd eaglet born) that was similar in size and age to the others they were bringing back to Vermont.
Cecilia 05/06/05 05:37 pm I read that update yesterday (thanks Celeste) and it seems that the folks at Blackwater didn't even know that the Biologist had taken a different bird until some of the nest observers reviewed the photos (or video?) It's all a little disturbing, methinks :-(
Mickey 05/06/05 06:09 pm It just seems so wrong. Imagine being taken from your sibs ,Parents and the only home you`ve known. Then handled by humans and shown off privately to god knows how many other friends of friends. And then showcased like some carnival show to school kids? If I was Lisa Id tell Vermont to shove it next year.
Shelley 05/06/05 06:14 pm I would go even one further and I'd think this guy should be reported to someone in the government wildlife protection or whatever agency regulates protected species. This is a protected species and, at least here in Canada, as far as I know, the only birds or animals of any kind that are used in education, are ones which are not able to be reintroduced into the wild. If this bird is intended for the purpose stated in the article, specifically, reintroduction, then what he did IS wrong, and potentially, quite harmful to the bird, especially at such a young age. I wonder if this guy even has any clue about this....

Mickey 05/06/05 06:29 pm I forgot to mention kudos to DPOF for not even allowing this to happen at our nest. Leave it to a State agency to muck up what at first sight looked like such a great idea!
Double thumbs down to the people in VT.
Shelley 05/06/05 06:32 pm Another thing the article said:

"It's important for the eaglets to have minimal contact with humans. Otherwise they'll become dependent on people for survival.

After four weeks and meals of fresh fish delivered on the sly, the bars will open. The eaglets will instinctively seek to fly from the box, eventually working up the courage to leave the nest for good.

The trick is getting them to stick around."

This eaglet is 8 weeks old. Their entire time at the nest is vital in their learning. They need adults around to teach them, to model themselves after, to learn to do what is hardwired in them but still, must be learned. Not to mention, learning appropriate social interaction, for their own species. Placing a bunch of young eaglets together in a box without an adult, even to my limited knowledge, seems foolish. If they want them to imprint on the area in Vermont, and they are hell-bent on interfering, why not take the eggs and an adult or 2 and relocate them so that they will hatch in Vermont. Far less trauma to the chicks, no? Of course, I don't know how they would do that but chick-napping an 8-week old and leaving it without an adult, does not seem likely to produce positive results.

Just thinking out loud here....
FOB Webmaster 05/06/05 07:31 pm Hi Guys,

I'm not going to pretend that I represent the US Fish and Wildlife Service, because I don't. I'm an unpaid volunteer with the nonprofit Friends of Blackwater.

As that person, I can say that I was a little surprised that Craig took one of the eaglets (we're not completely sure it was the cam eaglet) to a school before it was taken to its overnight resting place were it waited for its flight to Vermont.

But I can tell you what they would likely say: that it was a brief public goodwill stop that was meant to combine education and publicity for the eagles and the program. At a time when the FWS budget and personnel are being decimated due to out of control federal deficits, there is a need to build support for programs such as this one. At the FWS, people are having to justify the existence of their programs -- not just their level of funding, their existence. That was where the newspaper coverage would likely help.

Second, it gave the future adults of the area an appreciation of the local wildlife heritage, which they will one day hopefully work to protect and not want to shoot when they go out hunting on the Eastern Shore.

The experience would not have likely caused any imprinting on the eaglet. Feeding him and conditioning him to the concept that "people = food" could have done great harm to an eaglet, but that did not seem to take place and will not take place in Vermont.

Would I have preferred Craig didn't do it? Probably. But I'm not a FWS employee who is having to justify each and every program in his department and relying on the goodwill of the public for programs like the Vermont Initiative to survive or for eagles to be treated properly. I'm not in those shoes, so I don't have to make those tough calls.

As for the picking of eaglet #2 -- it was a good call based on the size of the eaglets. Poor communication did not alert all of us to the change that had been made, but it was still a good call. And it was an especially good move for eaglet #3, since anyone who has watched the cam a lot knows there was competition between eaglets #2 and #3. If eaglet #3 was to be left alone with another eaglet, it was better he was left with #1, and not #2 -- who seemed to be more competitive with him. More than once we saw eaglet #3 go to eaglet #1 for protection. He's better off.

I enjoy coming to this board very much to read your thoughts and I enjoy posting occasionally. I'm not going to go on about this anymore here, but I wanted to drop by and offer my thoughts -- and let me stress these are just my personal thoughts -- because I respect you guys. Take care and good luck with the ospreys.

Shelley 05/06/05 08:08 pm Thank you for this. Yes, I do understand that sadly, the bottom line in everything, is always money. And yes, you are absolutely right about making an impression on kids now, in order to (hopefully) help to positively influence decisions of the future. I am an elementary school teacher who is an animal lover and I endorse and support this type of education wholeheartedly. Actually seeing an animal up close will always have more of an impact than reading about it or even seeing a film. No argument there.

I think what upset us all so much was that what seems to have happened was that this eaglet was *used* for a good purpose, with no ill intent, but also, with (apparently) little thought to its own welfare. Yes, everything you said about having to justify the programs is true, but if what was done ends up stressing the eaglet to the point where it dies, was it worth it? Just seems to me that such decisions need to be thought out a bit more. I don't doubt Craig had the best of intentions but surely, there are other ways to accomplish the same goals?

Thanks for your thorough and thoughtful post and I hope you will post more often!
Tim P 05/06/05 08:11 pm I still like this method of restoration (hacking).I've seen puppets that resembled adults used to feed the young during this process. The reason given for selecting #2 instead of #3 is completely understandable. I also donĂ¢€™t disagree with the showing of the bird to school children. The future is in their hands.
Cecilia 05/06/05 08:27 pm Hi Lisa, (I think :-)

Thanks for joining us...God knows you already do an amazing job keeping the Blackwater Observers informed and involved and it is very kind of you to take the time to share your thoughts with us.

It's sad to hear that the WFS people have to fight so hard to justify their very existence. I'm sure wildlife programs all over the United States are threatened by political forces too complicated to go into here. I certainly do not wish to bring any bad karma down on them :-(

Even so...I do think it was a bad call and that if they want or need to promote their programs then they should do so with adult birds, not newly translocated chicks.

All of the good press that they may generate has to be balanced with the needs of the birds that they are handling. Exposing that chick to any amount of noise, movement or stress that wasn't absolutely necessary in the process of getting him to his new home seems unwise and improper...even for a press advantage.

Oh you would have prefered that it hadn't happened and we all know that you didn't have anything to do with the decision so it is very nice and diplomatic of you to try to help us understand. We birders are a passionate lot don't you think? :-)

Regards, Cec
Lori 05/06/05 10:43 pm at the risk of sounding heartless.... I agree with Tim.
Celeste 05/07/05 05:22 am Wow, I missed a lot last night! Many insightful thoughts to I fully agree with the eaglet being taken to the school?....I do not fully agree with bringing the eaglet to the school,....however, I am trying to understand why it was done and hoping and trusting that it did not overly stress the eaglet. There are many wildlife, osprey included who are "rescued" and released and continue to live in the wild. Hacking is done with many different wild birds successfully, and has been done with osprey all over the states. It is because of hacking that osprey have been reintroduced in Minnesota, and many other states. As Tim has indicated, there is no people contact....the birds are fed with a "puppet"....this method is done with a wide variety of wildlife. In Canada, I saw a documentary on how an eagle who was injured and couldn't be released in the wild, (though it was tried several times only to find him injured again because of a bad wing), was used as a "rehabilitator" for eagles who were rescued and released. This eagle was "people" friendly used to human contact, and yet could "teach" the rescued eagles to be "wild" when they were released. This was this eagle's legacy, though he himself would never be free.

In Africa, some wild animals are caught and shown to the children in schools so that they will grow up with the education and understanding to help preserve the precious wildlife around them, and find ways to live along this wildlife. Unfortunately, the majority of people take wildlife for we know, there are people who build homes in beautiful pristine areas, and get "annoyed" that the brown bear is a threat to their beautiful home, and the stories go on and on.
Disneyworld in Florida had a "wild" bird show with rescued owls, eagles, and other birds. Many people in the audience never even gave a thought to these wildbirds, and yet through entertainment, with "teaching" thrown in, many people walked away from that "show" with a new found respect for the wild.
It takes money to rehabilitate, to educate, etc., and like everything else in this world "money talks", and unfortunately, there are things that one must do to get attention and as Lisa said, an "act of goodwill" which in the end will help preserve our wild. Maybe it would have been a better plan to show a "rescued" eagle, and photos of the eaglet being removed from Blackwater......and I am curious how they heard of that particular school....I know eagle is their mascot I believe, but so it is for a lot of schools.
Hopefully, because of the hacking project in Vermont, in the end this eagle will make its home in a state where the eagle population needs to be increased, and those children who were shown the eagle one day may be the passionate people who "observe, and contribute to preservation!"

Lisa, we are thrilled that you visit us from time to time, and thank you (again) for taking the time to answer us. I am always in awe on how well you maintain the Blackwater site! I learn something from your site all the time!

Copyright © 2006 DPOF

Tom Throwe
Last modified: Sat Feb 18, 2006