The third eaglet hatched at Decorah’s famous nest was electrocuted Tuesday.
“We are heartbroken to announce the electrocution of our male juvenile Decorah eaglet, believed to be D18,” said Bob Anderson, director of the Raptor Resource Project (RRP), which has been monitoring the Decorah eagles’ Fish Hatchery nest online via a nest cam since 2008. D18 is the 18th eaglet hatched at the nest since the nest cams were installed.
“This morning the one young 2014 male eagle was seen soaring high over the bluff near Decorah compost site. We were all impressed by his flying skill. We believe that the young eagle was on his way back to the compost site when he attempted to land on the power pole about one-half mile from the (city of Decorah) compost site,” Anderson said Tuesday.
“This was a high transmission power pole and the eaglet suffered burns on its wing (wrist) and singed feathers on his feet. The electricity either entered through its feet and out the wing or vice versa, and his wing was nearly severed. We are all very saddened as his flying prowess led us to believe that we would have a long-lived male eagle to compliment the data from our famous D1”.
Decorah eagles D12 and D14 were both electrocuted in 2012. Afterward, many of the power poles around the nest and hatchery were retrofitted to prevent further deaths but not all poles in Decorah were, Anderson said. The pole at the compost site is a mile east of the Hatchery.
“Yesterday’s electrocution was extremely unusual,” Anderson said Wednesday morning. “The line was a 69 kilowatt distribution line that appeared during our initial inspection, to be appropriately protected. We don’t know whether (D18) tried to perch or collided with the line, although it was clearly killed by electrocution.”
The company that owns the line is not a local or regional power producer and Anderson said he is trying to contact company officials.
The eagle electrocuted Tuesday was one of three hatched at the Fish Hatchery nest this spring. Earlier this month, one of its siblings was located in a stream with a broken wing. It has had surgery and is now recovering at Save Our Avian Resources (SOAR) in Carroll County.
The third, a female eagle believed to be D 19, continues to spend much of her time on the “mulch mountain” at the city yard waste site, according to Anderson.