Eagle fed fish snagged with hooks, line to eaglet in western Pa.
FILE PHOTO: A bald eagle takes flight along the Allegheny River on the Northside of Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
(Pittsburgh) — A bald eagle carried a fish snagged with multiple hooks and fishing line back to its Pittsburgh nest and fed it to one of the two eaglets, but it’s unclear whether the young bird swallowed a hook, authorities said.
Executive director Jim Bonner of the Audubon Society of western Pennsylvania told the Tribune-Review that the case is “a cautionary tale for debris left such as fishing line.”
The month-old eagle chicks are the ninth and tenth raised by the pair over seven years on a hillside above the Monongahela River. Audubon and CSE Corp. operate a live webcam on the nest.
Bonner said if a bird ingested the hook, the prognosis wouldn’t be good. Both eaglets seemed in good health afterward, but Audubon and others will continue to monitor them.
Photographers and birdwatchers on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail across from the nest watched the parent birds going back and forth from river to nest Saturday morning, often carrying fish to their offspring
Dan Dasynich of Pittsburgh said he noticed something trailing behind a fish and swung his zoom lens camera to examine it.
“I noticed it was fishing line that led to the fish’s mouth, and it was a good eight-foot long piece of line knotted up with debris tangled in it.”
Bonner said the webcam documented one of the eagles feeding a chunk of fish to one of the eaglets with a hook clearly visible. He said the bird appeared to have swallowed it, brought it back up, then bowed its head, but it’s unclear if the fish totally swallowed it or brought it back up. Closer analysis revealed two and perhaps three hooks in the fish, Bonner said.
Bonner said there were no plans to intervene at the nest — “That is not our call.” The Pennsylvania Game Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service typically don’t intervene on wildlife during breeding.
The Audubon Society has placed fishing line recycling tubes along waterways, including one not too far from the nest. Dasynich said he was hart-hit by the incident because “fishing is my religion.”
“I collect my line,” he said. “I don’t use lead. It’s all about conservation.”