Eagle Trapped in Salem Not Unique, Expert Says
According to local expert, rare bird rescued on Thanksgiving Day is over 7 years old and was hatched in Rhode Island.
A local expert on birds of prey said what happened to the bald eagle rescued from a hunting trap in Salem on Thanksgiving Day is not an altogether uncommon happening.
Chris Martin, a wildlife biologist with N.H. Audubon who contracts with the state Fish & Game Department, said instances like the Salem case happen "more often than we are aware of."
On Thursday, police responded to an area off Garabedian Drive where a hunter had discovered the rare majestic bird caught in a trap next to a skinned beaver carcass.
Police were able to free the eagle and despite suffering a minor laceration to one of its toes, it was able to fly away on its own. Police later determined the trap was legal and the eagle was not the intended target.
On Monday, Martin reached out to Salem Police to provide information about this specific eagle. Based on the bands the eagle's legs, Martin said the eagle was hatched over seven years ago at the Scituate Reservoir in northern Rhode Island.
Martin told police the distance between that location in Salem is about 70 miles and that bald eagles can live between 12 and 20 years.
Martin, who has 20 years of experience working with bald eagles in the state, said the population of bald eagles in the Granite State has been rising over the last decade.
There were 35 "territorial pairs" of bald eagles in the state this year, with likely more undocumented transient bald eagles who aren't nesting.
That's up 30 percent from 2011, when 27 territorial pairs were documented in New Hampshire, according to Martin.
Martin said it's a "reasonable possibility" that the eagle trapped in Salem Thursday is nesting nearby. Birds around this one's age typically nest and stay in the same area most of the year.
Bald eagles, who are naturally scavengers and hunters, sometimes get into dangerous situations in an effort to sustain themselves. As a result, they can fall into hunting traps not intended for them.
"In the wild, you can see eagles with a missing digit or a toe," Martin said. "These could be caused by a trap...It happens more often than we can document."
Martin said N.H. Audubon has numerous volunteers who help track the locations of these birds and he expects this happening in Salem may raise awareness about bald eagles locally. He said an eye will be out for a possible nesting mate for this eagle.