A six-week-old eaglet was attacked by a raccoon and killed at Xcel Energy’s Fort St. Vrain facility near Platteville on Monday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has confirmed.
The bald eagle family has a large following because two “eagle cams” are focused on the nest around the clock. Many follow the eagles via the Fort St. Vrain Eagle Cam Facebook group.
A second eaglet survived the attack, as did the mother and father. CPW said wildlife officer Mike Grooms responded to investigate 90 minutes after the attack.
“The camera showed a raccoon scaling to the top of the nest tree and grabbing the older, larger of the two eaglets from the nest around 7 p.m.,” the CPW statement said. “Wildlife officer Grooms was able to collect what remained from the carcass and delivered it to CPW’s Wildlife Health Lab, where officials will submit it for testing of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.”
CPW noted that the nest dates back to 1993 and the camera went online in 2003.
“What followers saw on Monday was a natural event,” the statement said. “Predation of eaglets is not something you often hear about. Without a webcam, such events are hard to document. The vast majority of nest failures in Colorado are attributed to weather events (such as windstorms that damage or destroy nests or nest trees), new nests/inexperienced pairs, the loss of an adult during the nesting season and potentially human-related disturbance in the immediate area.
“The most likely mammalian predator of bald eagles in Colorado’s Front Range are raccoons, while avian predators include magpies, crows and ravens, hawks and owls.”
Many fans of the Fort St. Vrain eagles have commented on the Facebook group page, expressing their sadness over the incident. The group has more than 4,000 members.
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