Bald Eagle Electrocuted in Iowa, Wildlife Experts Explain

A bald eagle was electrocuted earlier this week in Iowa, one of the eaglets eagerly watched online from the world-famous Decorah nest in Iowa.

The bald eagle electrocuted was known as D12, one of several eaglets recently born as wildlife enthusiasts the world over watched from a webcam. The story of the Decorah eaglets, even before the bald eagle was electrocuted, captivated viewers across the globe, and was one of the largest stories on Wired in 2011.

D12’s death was announced with regrets on the Facebook page of the Raptor Resource Project, where more than 70,000 site users follow the progress of the Decorah eaglets. Earlier this week, the RRP reported that the young bald eagle had been electrocuted, saying:

“We are very sorry to announce that D12 is dead. D12 was found electrocuted at the base of a power pole on a Sunday morning. We notified the power company, who modified the top of that pole on Sunday and several other poles in the area on Monday. As of this morning, they are continuing to identify and modify poles to make them raptor safe. If you find an electrocuted raptor or other bird by a pole, take it to the nearest wildlife center (if it is still alive) and contact your state DNR or local game warden and the utility company that owns the pole.”

In the event someone discovers another bald eagle electrocuted, the RRP advised fans:

“1. Provide information about the dead or injured bird.
2. Identify the nearest pole to the electrocuted raptor by the pole identification number (on the pole itself) and local landmarks such as cross streets or street addresses (if applicable).
…Include as many specifics as you can regarding the species and the incident. If possible, take photographs of the raptor and the pole to submit with your reports and notes. “

However, while the young bald eagle had been electrocuted, the RRP also assures wildlife fans that power lines do not, in general, threaten the lives of eaglets such as D12. They explain:

“Power lines themselves are not an electrocution hazard for birds (birds can and do sit on wires), but unshielded poles can be dangerous. The Avian Protection Plan Guidelines include information on raptor safe poles and modification of existing poles. New structures are fairly safe, but older poles may not be. Older poles may have been installed either before people were aware of electrocution hazards to wildlife, or during the decline of raptor populations in America, when interaction was less likely.”

The bald eagle electrocuted and found dead was the first death among the Decorah eaglets.