Eagles are nice, but not at cost of other birds

Posted: Wednesday, May 03, 2006

We have been reading and hearing about the feeding of eagles on the Homer Spit and haven’t seen much said about the impact of the bald eagle population on the surrounding bird colonies in Kachemak Bay, to say nothing of the migrating bird population into the Kenai River flats area this time of year.

Boyd Shaffer, biologist, KPC professor, and artist who lived here for many years, predicted that the increased bald eagle population resulting from feeding them on the Spit would have an affect on the migrating snow geese, ducks and Canada geese coming to rest and feed on the Kenai River flats, and whether or not that is the reason we didn’t see any snow geese last spring, it certainly has been a fact that we see more bald eagles around Kenai-Soldotna than we used to. Visiting the community of Halibut Cove via the Danny J last summer, we visited with the crew of the Danny J, who observe this wild bird population every summer day for years, and who say they have noticed a change in the last few years in the numbers of birds nesting. Each time an eagle flies over the island, the parent birds leave the nests, leaving the eggs vulnerable. Eagles are always a part of the system, but the increased number that we are seeing is throwing everything out of balance.

So why isn’t this ever mentioned when we have stories about the feeding of the bald eagles? We are birdwatchers too, and we are thrilled by the sight of a bald eagle soaring about the trees and the river. But we are not thrilled to think that their numbers are being artificially increased by illegal (ill-eagle) feeding. This type of behavior in human beings to promote one species over another, takes the natural balance out of it. Yeah, it’s great to see them and have many photographers and tourists show up, but gosh darn, why do tourists love Alaska? It’s because of our natural beauty and our amazing wildlife. Not an artificial set-up where the eagles are like pigs coming to the trough.

Maria and Tom Allison


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