Thursday, April 7, 2016

Caution necessary when confronting a bald eagle

A pair of stories involving drivers striking bald eagles with their vehicles recently made the news.

Gary Jorgensen, a 62-year-old construction company owner from Union, Wash., reportedly swaddled an eagle in a safety vest and called 911 after hitting the protected bird with his pickup truck on Tuesday, April 5, on Route 16 near Tacoma, Wash.

Washington State Trooper Russ Winger posted a photo on
Twitter of Gary Jorgensen swaddling a bald eagle in a safety
vest after hitting it with his vehicle.
Washington State Trooper Russ Winger posted photographs of Jorgensen holding the eagle on Twitter.

“This awesome raptor was flying too low this (morning) on SR16 and collided with a truck,” Winger tweeted. “Hopefully, we can save him.”

The eagle, which hit off Jorgensen’s windshield, later died at a rehab facility despite the driver’s best efforts.

Truck driver Dawn Gifford posted on Facebook in March that she hit a bald eagle while traveling near Ashton, Iowa. According to a report from KTIV, motorists alerted authorities to the injured bird.

The eagle was taken to Saving Our Avian Resources Rehabilitation Center. But in addition to the injury it suffered from the accident, the eagle was also suffering from lead poisoning and eventually needed to be euthanized.

About a year ago, truck driver Mario Giorbano spotted an injured bald eagle sitting in a roadside ditch along Route 17 in upstate New York, according to The Associated Press. Giorbano stopped his truck and called 911 to alert state police.

All of these drivers are Good Samaritans in my books. However, the small wave of stories calls for the need to remind drivers of the laws regarding bald eagles.

Land Line’s Greg Grisolano detailed the laws in a blog from June 2015.

A 1972 amendment to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act increased civil penalties for those taking, possessing, selling, purchasing or bartering any part of the birds, their nests and their eggs. The maximum penalty is $5,000 or one-year imprisonment for first offenders. Eagles also are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits anyone from taking, killing, possessing, importing or even transporting migratory birds

When encountering an injured eagle, calling a local wildlife rescue group seems like the appropriate first move.