In 1782, Congress chose the bald eagle as the U. S. national symbol. To this day, the bird of prey remains the calling card of America, a sign of freedom.
However, there is a farmer in Idaho that is becoming less fond of the national symbol. According to the Times-News, Rocky Matthews said that he has lost 54 of his sheep to the bird of prey.
Matthews said that the incredible number of sheep that the bald eagle has killed started in April. He owns a farm near Murtaugh Lake, Idaho. Since the start of the attacks, the massive bird of prey began picking off his flock.
Initially, Matthews said that he didn’t know what was killing his sheep. However, that changed when he saw one of the eagles attack the flock.
The Idaho farmer said that the eagles have nested around his farm for over 20 years. But, he made sure to point out that this is the first time he has ever seen or heard of them attacking his sheep.
“They’ve never crossed paths [until] this year,” Matthews said. “The damage under the hide is a hundredfold from what you see on the exterior.”
Idaho Farmer Has His Hands Tied Trying to Deal With a Bald Eagle Problem
The Idaho man thinks that the eagles began killing his livestock because the lake took longer to thaw out. Typically, a bald eagle will eat mainly fish. However, according to the National Eagle Center, they also eat a variety of other foods if they need or want to.
Bald eagle prey also can include waterfowl, small mammals—like squirrels, raccoons, and prairie dogs—amphibians, and apparently sheep.
Bald eagles will typically live for 20-30 years. They also like to return to the same nest, year after year. So, it is not unlikely that the same pair has been nesting on Matthews has been seeing the same pair for 20 years.
What makes this situation incredibly tough for Matthews is that the bald eagle has intense protection. Although the bird of prey is no longer on the Endangered Species Act list, they are highly regarded. In particular, the bird of prey falls under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
All of this means that the hawk cannot be killed. Unlike many other animals that attack humans or their property, you are not allowed to kill them. More importantly, you will face a significant fine and possibly jail time.
So, instead of having to jump through legal hoops, the Idaho farmer is trying to deal with it appropriately. He moved his sheep to a much closer barn. Matthews is hoping that this will deter any future attacks from the resident bald eagle.