Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Eagles kill hundreds of lambs each year but it goes unreported

Laura Wahl stands in the pasture with her lambs eight hours a day during peak lambing season to protect them. The predators aren’t coyotes or cougars; they are bald eagles. Wahl runs Wahl Grazing, a sheep and goat operation, with her family near Albany. She estimates that she loses 300 lambs a year to eagle depredation — a loss of approximately $37,500. During lambing season, Wahl is used to seeing 20 eagles lining the perimeter of her pastures waiting for ewes to give birth to their lambs. Because of a complex reporting system, few resources available to ranchers and the stigma surrounding complaints about the national bird, Wahl said her family doesn’t have many options to protect their lambs. “There’s nothing we can really do about (eagles),” Wahl said. “All we can do is hope the eagles don’t find the lambs.” Eagle depredation is a controversial and complicated issue for ranchers, ranching advocates and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees protected species. Ranchers agree that eagles killing lambs is a big problem but they do not report the depredation out of a lack of faith in federal government services. Peter Orwick, executive director of the American Sheep Industry Association, said avian raptors are a huge problem for producers and that eagles are a particularly tough problem because there are limited tools and resources to help sheep producers...more

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