Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Slow down when approaching road kills

Motorists are striking bald eagles, which can be slow to get out of the way

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 10/30/19

REGIONAL— As winter approaches, area deer are feeding heavily along roadsides and that presents hazards both for drivers, deer, and other wildlife, including bald eagles.

Road-killed deer are …

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Slow down when approaching road kills

Motorists are striking bald eagles, which can be slow to get out of the way

Posted

REGIONAL— As winter approaches, area deer are feeding heavily along roadsides and that presents hazards both for drivers, deer, and other wildlife, including bald eagles.

Road-killed deer are common along area highways this time of year, and they make an attractive food source for ravens, as well as migrating vultures and bald eagles.

While ravens are usually pretty savvy around highway traffic, Tower Area DNR Wildlife Manager Tom Rusch notes that larger birds, like bald eagles, can be slower to get out of the way of speeding vehicles.

“Eagles are a big animal with a seven-foot wingspan. They just can’t get out of the way as quickly as other birds can,” said Rusch. And that means a road-killed deer can quickly lead to more victims. In fact, just last week, two bald eagles were struck by motorists passing road-killed deer on Hwy. 53, in northern St. Louis County, on the same day. One of the birds had to be euthanized, while the other ended up in rehabilitation at the Raptor Center in St. Paul.

While two injured eagles in one day is unusual, Rusch notes that such calls are surprisingly common this time of year, and he urges drivers to slow down when they approach a road-kill because of the likelihood that scavengers might be present.

“We hear all the time about the dangers of lead with eagles, but we’re killing a lot of eagles right on our highways because we’re not slowing down,” he said. “There are a lot of eagles coming through right now. I’ve seen up to six on a single road kill.”

While wildlife managers have made some effort to document the number of eagles impacted by lead poisoning, Rusch said there doesn’t appear to be any systematic accounting of the number of eagles killed by vehicle crashes. “But I can tell you it’s a lot.”

That’s why Rusch has a simple message for drivers this time of year. “Slow down, especially around deer or road kills. Wildlife is unpredictable.”

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