Banded Bald Eagle

banded bald eagle
Banded bald eagle. Photo courtesy of James Rhodes.

Question: I have been photographing a pair of bald eagles near Perris for about six months, including the banded eagle in the attached photo. Can you tell me anything about the eagle? From what I can gather the band number is 7vj-7vj. (James R.)

Answer: You’re in luck! Biologists at the Bird Banding Laboratory in Maryland were able to research the eagle’s backstory based on the information you provided and other sighting reports they received. The eagle you photographed was banded as a nestling in May 2017 near Hemet in Riverside County. In January 2018, the eagle was found injured and taken to a Riverside County rehabilitation facility. It looks like the eagle’s recovery was successful because there was a reported sighting in March 2018 at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area, and another reported sighting in January 2019 in Riverside County.

The band on this eagle is called a Visual Identification Number, or VID. This type of band is easily visible using binoculars, spotting scopes or camera lenses, making the collection of re-sighting data even more possible. This data is used to understand species ranges, movement, survival and other ecological factors of interest to researchers.

You can find a lot of interesting information about bald eagles on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website. We also encourage birders and other nature lovers to report sightings through our California Natural Diversity Database.

Can you put a camera on a hoop net?

Question: For crab and lobster fishing, is there a regulation saying that someone using a rigid hoop net cannot attach an underwater camera to the float above the trap? That would be much easier to know when to pull up your nets. (Rich)

Answer: There’s no regulation in California that would prohibit placement of an underwater camera on a rigid hoop net. However, remember that your hoop net must be inspected at least every two hours per California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.80. To count as an inspection, the person who placed the net into the water must raise the net to the surface and inspect its contents. Any hoop net that is left unchecked for more than two hours is considered abandoned and could be seized by law enforcement. Also, note that the fisherman’s GO ID number must be displayed on the buoy of the trap being fished.

Would California ever reintroduce the grizzly bear?

Question: Is CDFW in favor of, or opposed to, reintroducing grizzly bears to the California Wilderness areas of the Sierras, or the coastal redwoods of Humboldt and Del Norte counties? It would be a shame not to reintroduce our state animal to its native environment. (Scott)

Answer: While we find it interesting, we are not entertaining the reintroduction of grizzly bears to the state. The idea has been a nonstarter for CDFW. The department is decidedly pro-science and pro-study, which would be required before even suggesting an action like this. But this kind of study is not a priority for CDFW. It’s unlikely that CDFW would take on the burden and extra cost of engaging in a study for the following reasons:

  • Grizzly bears traditionally would roam oak woodlands and even beaches, sometimes eating whale carcasses. We have no reason to assume that grizzlies would stay within some arbitrary boundary we set in a remote area of the Sierra or Coastal Redwoods, or that they wouldn’t wander from remote areas into less remote ones near people and livestock.
  • Salmon and other wildlife that grizzly bears feasted on 150 to 200 years ago are not as abundant as they used to be.
  • We have 40 million people in this state. Reintroducing grizzly bears would suggest bringing them into places where people are now.

Reintroducing grizzly bears potentially into places where people live, recreate and raise livestock would likely prove counterproductive as it would necessitate further management of human/wildlife conflicts. We already struggle enough as it is to manage human and livestock conflicts with the animal species that are here, such as black bears, wolves, coyotes and mountain lions.

When transporting turkeys home, which parts are required for ID?

Question: What portions of a turkey is a hunter required to retain for identification purposes? I’m not sure that “plucking a turkey in the field but leaving the beard attached” is sufficient to stay legal when transporting. While keeping the beard would certainly help identify, I believe a fully feathered head or wing is the actual requirement. In fact, if a hunter chooses to pluck both wings and leave the “fully feathered head” attached, would that be enough proof for identification purposes? (Blake)

Answer: Hunters are not required to retain the turkey’s beard. However, “all birds, including migratory game birds, possessed or transported within California must have a fully feathered wing or head attached until placed into a personal abode or commercial preservation facility or when being prepared for immediate consumption” (CCR Title 14, section 251.7).

Since the law only authorizes the take of bearded turkeys during the spring season, CDFW recommends leaving the beard attached during the spring season (CCR Title 14, section 300).

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