LANSING, MICH. – The Service and Michigan DNRE and the Environment (DNRE) urge Michigan drivers to use caution Michigan this travel season as bald eagles may be present on or near roadways. Bald eagle mortality rates due to vehicular collisions in Michigan have risen in the last six years, accounting for 222 out of 774, or 29 percent, of recorded eagle mortalities between 1987 and 2008.
“Michigan drivers, especially in the northern part of the state, should be aware that eagles are often along our roadsides and can help out by taking necessary steps to help reduce eagle mortality,” said DNRE Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason. “Slowing your vehicle if you happen to spot an eagle near road kill is a good start.”
“A recent analysis of data from Michigan indicates that collisions with vehicles are a significant cause of eagle mortality,” said Jack Dingledine, Deputy Field Supervisor of the East Lansing Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The bald eagle tells one of our nation’s most revered conservation success stories, and although this species has recovered to sustainable levels, we must keep in mind that as numbers rise, so does the risk for mortality due to human interactions.”
In addition to catching and eating fish, eagles commonly feed on dead animals. Road corridors often attract eagles, which will scavenge on large road-kill such as deer, coyote, fox or raccoon. Scavenging behavior tends to increase during the winter months when ice develops on lakes and rivers, making foraging for fish more difficult.
“There is no one solution that will completely eliminate vehicle-caused mortality in Michigan,” said Dingledine. “But efforts from all sides, including help from the driving public, can reduce vehicle-caused eagle mortality.”
Eagles that appear to be outside of a vehicle’s path may feel threatened by the approach of an oncoming vehicle and may attempt to escape, often leading the bird to cross the roadway, in front of oncoming traffic. Drivers who do not anticipate this reaction by the eagle put themselves, the eagle, and their vehicle at risk. If a driver observes an eagle on or near a roadway, and if it is safe to do so, vehicle speed should be reduced immediately to give the driver and the eagle more time to react.
To report a live or dead eagle (or eagles) on the ground or scavenging on road-kill near a roadway in Michigan, please submit your observation at the following Web address: www.fws.gov/midwest/eastlansing/eagleform.htm. This information will help biologists determine where management action are most needed and the appropriate steps to reduce future collisions in these areas.
Reporting road kill to your local transportation agency can prevent eagle-vehicular collisions. Road kill removal requires proper authority, safety equipment and training, and drivers should not independently attempt to remove road kill.
To report road-kill both on and off the pavement or shoulder of a road:
· Drivers on state highways should call their regional MDOT Transportation Service Center – Visit www.michigan.gov/mdot/ for contact information (click on ‘About MDOT’).
· Drivers on county roads should call their local county road commission maintenance garage – See the government section of your local phone book for contact information.
Following the ban on many chlorinated pesticides in the 1970s and the protections offered by the Federally Threatened and Endangered Species List, bald eagle populations have stabilized and begun to recover in many regions of the country. In Michigan, populations have increased from 52 breeding pairs in 1961 to 630 breeding pairs in 2010. The conservation community celebrated the de-listing of the bald eagle from the Endangered Species List in 2007.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen visit www.fws.gov .