An eagle nicknamed ‘Olive Oyl’ flies free at the Port Clements Community Park on Friday, May 25, in front of local students and well-wishers. Found in Port Clements this winter, the eagle was unable to fly after its feathers got coated in what appeared to be cooking oil. Local wildlife rescue volunteer Leila Riddall sent the bird on a Pacific Coastal flight to the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta. ‘Sandy,’ an eagle found in Sandspit with lead poisoning around the same time, was also released in good condition Friday. (Bree-Ann Christel Collinson/Submitted)

Eagles face a few human hazards on Haida Gwaii

Two up, one down.

That was Friday’s eagle count for Leila Riddall, a long-time wildlife rescue volunteer in Masset.

On the same day that two bald eagles were flown back to Masset after surviving lead poisoning and getting covered in food oil, a third was found electrocuted below a power line in Masset with a fish head by its side.

Of all the human hazards eagles face on Haida Gwaii, perhaps the easiest to fix is the habit of leaving fish and deer scraps where the birds can feed on them.

“People think they’re doing them a favour, but they’re not pets,” says Kelly Aitken, a local fishery officer with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Aitken said it’s actually illegal to leave fish scraps on boat ramps or anywhere else in the intertidal zone.

Eagles often hurt each other fighting over the scraps, and it’s not uncommon for them to hit a nearby house or power line in the frenzy.

“No one who feeds animals is being mean,” Aitken said. “They just need to understand that it’s leading to something not so good.”

Aitken noted that such eagle deaths actually appear to have declined in Masset, as local fishing lodges have improved their practices.

Using the cleaning station on the Masset Harbour dock is an easy solution, she added, since the scraps fall directly into the deep water below the dock.

A trickier hazard is the use of lead hunting ammunition on Haida Gwaii and Canada at large.

A recent study commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada found that across the country, hunters send about 40 to 80 tonnes of lead into the environment each year. Not only is there evidence that eagles and ravens die after ingesting lead from the guts of hunted deer, gun-range shooters show elevated levels of lead in their blood, as do their families.

In contrast to hunting, the study found about 5,000 tonnes of lead is discharged on shooting ranges in Canada every year, and less than 200 tonnes is recovered. Lead exposure and poisoning has been found in wildlife that forage in the highly contaminated areas around shooting ranges.

Because of the health and environmental risk, Denmark, Sweden, and The Netherlands have completely banned lead ammunition. In Canada, only lead birdshot is illegal.

While lead-free steel, tungsten, bismuth, and copper bullets can also be used for hunting, the study found they have very minimal use in Canada, and recreational hunters are unlikely to switch to lead-free bullets voluntarily. Lead-free ammunition for deer hunting is more costly, and is not widely available in stores.

 

‘Olive Oyl’ perches in Port Clements for a minute after a long airplane flight up from the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta. Unfortunately, while the bird survived a soaking in food oil, it got a rude welcome back on-island — the eagle was immediately attacked by a murder of crows. (Bree-Ann Christel Collinson/Submitted)

Just Posted

Masset dodges empty-ballot bullet

After an extended deadline, Masset now has enough candidates for council

Sunny skies for Terry Fox Run

Queen Charlotte and Masset runs raise nearly $3,000 for cancer research

Masset short on council candidates, other communities okay

Nominations deadline for Masset council extended to 4 p.m. Monday

Fishing boat ‘Haida Legend’ sinks off Langara Island

All crew rescued by nearby sport fishers, boat was re-fitted in late 2016

Last day to run for Oct. 20 election

Candidates have until 4 p.m. today to file nomination packages

Canning sockeye by hand in North Coast B.C.

Arnie Nagy teaches the Northern View how to can salmon in Prince Rupert

Abdelrazik torture lawsuit delay would be unconscionable: lawyer

The federal government is making a last-minute plea to delay the Federal Court hearing

Trudeau upset after meeting with Saskatchewan chiefs

Trudeau is upset about how time was managed in a recent meeting

B.C. tent city ‘devastated’ after flash flood

Maple Ridge mayor says that residents shouldn’t have to return to their flooded tents

Filipino-Canadians concerned about family after typhoon hits Philippines

Typhoon Mangkhut has killed 66 people in the Philippines and four in China

Ottawa looks at having retired judge help guide renewed pipeline review process

The feds would only says that ‘multiple options were on the table’

Canada bans use of trans fats in food products

Trans fats are know to cause heart disease

Yukon suspect in B.C. mail bombing makes court appearance

Whitehorse man Leon Nepper faces charges related to a mail bomb sent to a Port Alice home Sept. 11

Nearly 80% of British Columbians support a ban on handguns in cities

86% support a ban on military-style assault weapons

Most Read