The Decorah Eagles have captured the attention of the world. This spring, hundreds of thousands of visitors watched live as D12, D13, and D14 hatched and grew. Tuesday, the Raptor Resource Project announced its sad news that one of those eaglets -- D12, died.
"I think people find it a place the can see something good. To see something bad happen here, it doesn't make people mad, it makes them sad," said RRP volunteer David Lynch.
Hundreds of thousands of people -- worldwide -- watched, glued to their computer screens, as D12 emerged from his shell on March 26th.
"Many around the world watched the eagle go from egg to chick to fledge right out of the tree. To see something happen, they feel like they lost a member of their family," said Lynch.
You can count Lynch among them. He began watching the Decorah Eagle Cam from his Massachusetts home. In 2011, he signed on as a volunteer, helping out with the website. This is Lynch's first week viewing the nest in person. Unfortunately, his visit took a tragic turn Sunday, when volunteers found D12 dead, electrocuted by a pole just a few hundred feet from where he was born.
"It's sad for me, even as a volunteer, to see something happen to one of the eaglets. We consider them family. As a rule, we don't humanize them. But millions across the world do. They consider them almost their children," said Lynch.
Lynch is hoping people take their passion, and concern for D12's siblings, and turn the tragedy into another opportunity to learn about our nation's bird. This time -- about the obstacles they face every day.
"Previous to this incident there had been 100 percent success at the nest. Which is not common for bald eagles. We can't be complacent at this point and fee like there is no need to protect them or to preserve them. I think that's part of RRP's mission is to educate people that there is still need to protect these animals," said Lynch.
As for D13 and D14, Lynch reassures the community they are doing well. He snapped this compelling image of the two the day D12 died. Lynch says, they are aware they've lost a sibling. But unlike humans, they are simply moving on.
Representatives from Alliant Energy, the power company which operates the pole D12 hit, says they are very saddened by the eagle's death. There was already an animal guard in place on the pole -- but they have since modified the protection on that pole, and others in the area, to prevent another animal's death.
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