Delivery service to look into food dropped off at North Fort Myers eagle nest
Food deliveries to the American bald eagle nest along Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers by mobile services have prompted an investigation by DoorDash.
The nest has been the focus of attention due to its decade-long online presence, normally showing successful breeding activity by the eagles Harriet and M15, and now the drama over Harriet's disappearance Feb. 2.
With her missing, some eagle watchers started suggesting the delivery of food would be a help to M15, the male eagle left to raise eaglets E21 and E22.
However, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have issued statements that unauthorized human meddling in the birds' lives is against state and federal law as well as being a threat to the health and well-being of the raptors.
More than 190 million people have watched the nesting drama online at Southwest Florida Eagle Cam. The site has multiple cameras aimed at the nest and there is a chat room open at times for conversations about nest activities.
Officials from the site have confronted delivery drivers, specifically DoorDash, attempting to drop off food.
Virginia Pritchett McSpadden, co-founder of Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, said people continue to drop off food despite the state and federal wildlife agencies' warnings it's against the law.
McSpadden spoke with WGCU's Tara Calligan for an episode of Gulf Coast Life and was genuinely frustrated at what she experienced.
"There's still a core group of people out there that think that they are doing the best and right things even though it's against federal law and really is hurting the eagles in the long run," she said. "They're starting to come out at night. And they hide behind trees when no one can see them. And this is probably the first time that I'm talking about it publicly because it is very frustrating that they continue to do so and do everything that they can to not be seen on camera."
She added that there have been three more deliveries in recent days.
Additionally, more recently on Feb. 23, an eagle cam watcher posted photos of a DoorDash delivery person who was stopped short of delivering food at the base of the nesting tree, which is fenced off and private property.
The posting indicated the person had made previous deliveries of fish to the site.
An official from DoorDash, responding to a request for comment about the activity, said the company would look into it.
"Appreciate you bringing this to our attention, we're investigating this now," Jenn Rosenberg, manager, trust and safety communications for the California-based DoorDash, said in an emailed reply.
The illegal feeding is just one aspect of the unfolding turmoil at the site of the nest since Harriet vanished.
There have been skirmishes between M15 and other eagles. A female named R23-3 has managed to land in the nest, display submission to M15, steal food from him, and at one point allowed the eaglets to take food from her.
For now, there has been no official human intervention. The FWC and other area agencies watching over the eagles have said they would not intervene as long as the nesting activity was proceeding in a positive manner.
The eaglets are just about 75 days shy of being able to make it on their own, McSpadden said.
"You know, they do stay in the nest area to to learn to hunt from their parents and you know, practice flying with their other siblings," she said. "So it's all a process and you know, we are in that timeframe where they are old enough to you know, to survive solo, so we're just counting down those weeks until we can maybe see them fledge and fly."
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