The Myth of the Wedge-Tailed Eagle

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There is a common myth that surrounds the Wedge-Tailed Eagle which has contributed heavily to its demise in many areas of Australia. Many farmers of small stock, such as sheep and goats, believe that the Wedge-tailed Eagle hunts and kills stock young and that these birds badly effect the sheep industry, crippling their income. This is not so.

Disturbingly, in the 1900's literally thousands of eagles were killed. Between 1927 and 1968 in Western Australia alone 150,000 Government paid bounties were given as rewards for eagle carcases, and in Queensland another 10,000. This practise has long ceased as many now know that eagles only take sick and dying animals. Most farmers have been educated that the eagle does not have a negative effect on the sheep industry, but sadly there are still many out there who don't believe it and continue to shoot, trap and destroy Wedge-tailed Eagles despite them being protected in all states.

Eagles are incredibly large and lanky birds. The bulk of these birds limits their chances of hunting live food and more often than not they are unsuccessful in their attempts at seizing live prey. The eagle doesn't have the manoeverabilty as does the smaller birds of prey such as falcons, hawkes and kites and not only are twists and turns difficult - near impossible - for the eagle such manouevers use up valuable energy which is better used for circling in thermal air currents searching for carrion, which makes up a large part of their diet.

The two birds shown above came into care after having been shot. Both had severe wing injuries destroying bone, cartilidge and feathers - they will never fly again. Normally the decision would be to euthanse such animals as they cannot be returned to the wild, however these birds escaped death and now reside in a wildlife refuge and are used for educational purposes.


Click here for species information on the Wedgetailed Eagle