Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bald eagle carries off puppy — Owner blames decreased eagle feeding for Kookie becoming a snack

By Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

BobbieLee Briggs took her 11-week old puppy, Kookie, out to do its business Saturday morning, never suspecting that she might need to protect her pet from predators.

Little Kookie, (pronounced like Cookie), a Chihuahua, was so small it fit into Briggs’ hands. She paid $300 for the dog and brought her home about five weeks ago. On Saturday, Briggs set Kookie down, and along came an eagle.

“It was a full-grown eagle. It hit me on the head and shoulders and knocked me down. I looked up and he’s got my puppy,” Briggs said.

“Chihuahuas are small. When I looked up, the eagle had it like it was a mouse in its claws. She didn’t even struggle. The way she was held by the eagle was the way I would pick her up. The eagle kept flying off and didn’t drop her.”

Shaken and upset, Briggs said she didn’t know where to turn. On Monday, she spoke to a person at the Islands and Oceans Visitor’s Center, who suggested she write a letter to the editor. She also was told she might tell the Homer Police and contact the city of Homer.

“But I was afraid they would just laugh at me,” she said.

One of Briggs’ complaints is she believes this winter’s congregation of eagles poses a menace to small pets in town. She said city actions regarding eagles on the Homer Spit might be at fault.

“There haven’t been eagles in this area for a while,” Briggs said, speaking of the Fireweed neighborhood in Homer. “They were definitely looking for food. It’s like they are out hunting for squirrels. I want people to keep an eye out. Though, even if they are keeping an eye out, it could happen.”

Briggs said she hasn’t seen many eagles down on the Homer Spit, where they get a free meal for a few more weeks.

After the “Eagle Lady” Jean Keene died Jan. 13, the Homer City Council permitted Keene’s assistant to continue feedings through March 27. The council acted on the advice from wildlife officials who recommended against an abrupt halt to feeding eagles.

“I don’t think they are being fed anymore,“ Briggs said. “I was down there Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and I saw maybe one eagle the whole time.”

That makes her believe eagles are dispersed through town, hunting for food and searching out other eating opportunities.

“I think people need to be warned. I’m afraid somebody else’s animal might get taken. The eagles are hungry, and they are going to take food any way they can take it,” she said.

Steve Tarola, who feeds the Homer Spit eagles at the former home of Jean Keene, said he continues to feed a large grouping of eagles each morning.

“They are being well-fed here. Eagles are getting full,” he said.

The eagles will take off when longer days come, he said. They return to home territories to defend them.

“But we see them go even if there was food here,” he said.

5 comments:

James said...

This is precisely the reason feeding wild animals is a mistake. They become more aggressive towards humans and human environments when they aren't being fed, partly because they've lost their fear of us.

The only answer is to stop the feeding altogether and eventually the eagles will return to their normal feeding habits. As they are protected you can't go after them, so you just have to hope that eventually they'll regain their fear of humans.

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