Eaglets hatched, consumed by mother

Posted: Tuesday, June 05, 2001

KETCHIKAN (AP) -- Two eaglets that hatched last week at the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery and Raptor Center were eaten by their mother soon after they emerged from their eggs.

But that actually got some of the egg off the faces of hatchery workers, who weren't supposed to breed their eagles anyway.

The hatchery, permitted to keep a flightless male and female bald eagle pair on the condition that they not breed, had not been aware that the two could successfully mate.

Bird curator Jerry Thompson said the male, named Hunter, has a broken wing and kept falling off the back of the female, named Chaak. Apparently, he overcame that problem and two eggs hatched last week.

The female appeared to be caring the first eaglet, but the evening that the second one hatched, she ate both after hatchery workers left for the night, Thompson said.

''Her feed supply was ample,'' he said. ''I'm not sure what happened. But we're dealing with Mother Nature here, and sometimes the worm turns.''

It is not uncommon in nature for such a thing to happen, he said. The female may have detected that the chicks were unhealthy in some respect.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has said the center will have to put mineral oil on the shells or remove them from the nest to prevent future hatchlings.

If there are more hatches in the future, the center could be cited or have its eagle exhibition permit revoked.

There are several concerns about raising eagles in captivity, said Karen Laing of Fish and Wildlife.

For one thing, it is difficult to raise them in a manner that allows them to be released into the wild. Besides, she said, there is no shortage of bald eagles in Alaska, so there is no reason to breed captive birds.

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