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Her feeding the eagles actually helped increase the survival rate of immature balde eagles over the winter months by 25% by some numbers.
Quite to the contrary, much of the concern over her situation was over the effect on the young eagles. During their first year of life and even through their second year, eagles are still working to perfect their skills at hunting/fishing. A major reason for not shutting her operation down all at once was that those young birds, because she had become their primary source of food, had not developed the skills that they would have needed to get their own food. Concern was expressed by the Fish and Wildlife Service and many others that, because her feeding of the birds had attracted more birds into the area than the natural food supply could sustain and that there would be mass starvation if the baiting was discontinued all at once, and, while this concern was expressed regarding all of the eagles, that concern was at a heightened level regarding the younger birds.
Further, there is little question that those eagles had developed an unnatural trust for humans. When birds are literally approaching people and begging for food, their ability to survive is compromised. Many might know the story of the eagle that performs regularly at events like the Super Bowl, baseball games, etc. during the Star Spangled Banner. There is nothing physically wrong with it that would prevent it from being released into the wild, but, during its rehabilitation and preparation for being released into wild, it came to trust people. Multiple attempts were made to release the bird. Each time it was released, it ended up going to picnics, campsites, etc., and it approached people and begged for food. Frightened people then began chasing it with baseball bats, sticks, etc., and it was finally decided that, for its own safety, the bird could not be released in the wild. A raptor who trusts people is in trouble, and there is little question that the Homer eagles came to trust people more than they should have.
While you may want to use Jean Keene as an example of why baiting is okay, she has more often been considered to be the poster child for why baiting should not be done.
Edited on Feb 10, 2013 at 04:40 PM · View previous versions