Eagles must be weaned after feeder's death

Jan. 15, 2009 at 5:45 PM
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HOMER, Alaska, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Local officials in Homer, Alaska, must decide how to wean the eagles supplied with human food by a longtime local resident.

Jean Keene, who died this week at 85, was given a special exemption from a 2006 ordinance banning the feeding of eagles. Lodge owners, noticing the crowds of photographers around Keene's trailer, had begun their own feeding program in hopes of luring both birds and tourists.

The ordinance allowed Keene to keep on with her feeding until 2010 and makes no provision for anyone to carry on with her work. But biologists say that cutting off the food supply abruptly could be disastrous.

"Some of the younger birds would probably not make it," Vernon Byrd of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, told the Anchorage Daily News. "They'd have to forage around, start to get into more garbage

and boats looking for food. People would come on the weak ones standing around."

The city council is considering changing the law to allow feeding at Keene's trailer until spring. She usually stopped putting out food then, and the eagles would return to wild hunting for the summer.

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