D14, a Decorah bald eagle fitted with a satellite transmitter, was electrocuted Monday near Rockford, Iowa, about 50 miles southwest of its natal nest at the Decorah Fish Hatchery.
“The bird was obviously electrocuted with electrical burns to one foot and burns to one wing,” said Bob Anderson, director of the Raptor Resource Project, which sponsors the popular eagle nest cam that has endeared the eagle family to millions of internet viewers.
“The transmitter data was showing no movement so I drove to Rockford yesterday morning and using a portable receiver tracked down the dead bird at the base of a single phase power pole,” Anderson said in a press release Tuesday.
D14 is the second of this year’s hatchlings to be electrocuted.
D12, the first eagle hatched this spring at the world-famous Decorah nest, was found dead July 1 at the base of a power pole near the nest at the hatchery.
They are the first and second known deaths among the 14 eagles hatched at the nest.
After D12’s death, a group of raptor enthusiasts worked with Alliant Energy, Puget Sound Energy, Decorah High School and Decorah Building Supply to develop and fit bird-safe perches for the hatchery.
“All raptors — all wild animals — face myriad dangers in their lives. It is easy to forget that watching and tracking them doesn’t protect them,” Anderson said.
A federal study done in the 1990s identified impact injuries, poisoning, gunshot and electrocution as the top four sources of bald eagle mortality.
“We haven’t seen it in Decorah until this year, but D14′s transmitter is the only reason we were able to follow him after he left the nest,” Anderson said.
Anderson said new utility poles commonly have bird safety devices that not only protect perching birds but also minimize the fires and power supply disruptions that can accompany electrocutions.
However, he said, many old poles remain, and the safety devices do not always work.
Anderson said D14′s body will be sent to the National Eagle Repository, where his feathers and other parts will be distributed for use in Native American religious ceremonies.
A close examination of D14’s body disclosed that he was healthy, “butterball fat,” and with no signs of wear from the transmitter or backpack, Anderson said.