North American eagles facing ‘imminent’ threat, senior eagle biologist says

David Hancock says North America will lose its bald eagles, but he isn’t explaining why – yet

South Surrey eagle biologist David Hancock – who has been studying the raptors for more than 65 years – is suggesting that there’s an imminent threat to North American eagles, but he is not ready to offer an explanation.

Not quite yet.

Hancock and photographer Christian Sesse are currently working on a film about birds of prey around the globe. So far, the two men have travelled to Japan to film Steller’s sea eagles and Africa to study vultures.

Vultures, Hancock said, have diminished by 90 per cent over the years, and the problem isn’t limited to the scavengers.

“We don’t understand their dynamics. We don’t understand the dynamics of eagles.” Hancock said. “I think we’re about to lose our eagles. At the moment, we’re falsely thinking they’re doing well, and in a sense, they are. But there’s several things that suggest to me that we’re just about to lose them and I think it’s imminent. I want this film to come out before we lose them.”

The explanation to support Hancock’s theory, he said, is “the story that I’m holding.”

“That’s what the film is about. I’ve written the basic film and we’re filming the segments to make it into an hour-and-a-half film.”

Hancock expects the film to be finished next year.

At the same time, Hancock is working with another film crew. However, this film isn’t so much about birds of prey as it is about Hancock himself.

“It’s really about me. It’s about David Hancock’s efforts and story,” he said.

The documentary-style film was initially supposed to focus on eagles, but the story took a turn.

“It was initially just going to be about eagles. But since then, they heard of the fact that I made my living making wildlife films in the ’50s and ’60s,” Hancock said.

“In the film, they’re covering some of this perspective… about the different things I did. They haven’t yet examined my old film reels. Are they welded together? Because nobody has unwound one of these for 50 years – they just haven’t done it.”

South Surrey eagles

A pair of eaglets that hatched at Surrey’s first eagle reserve, located on 0 Avenue, have spread their wings.

The first eaglet, named Dee, hatched at 3:13 a.m. on April 15 (38 days after laying). She started to take flight on July 5 – 82 days after she emerged from the egg.

The second chick, named Ess, took flight three days after. Hancock’s team believes both eagles are female.

The young eagles were named in honour of Dawson & Sawyer – the developers of the Eagles Development. The company provided space, as well as funding for video cameras for a nest in the development.

A live stream of the nest can be found here.

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