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Harriet still missing; M15 feeding the eaglets and defending their nest

 Ann Press of Philadelphia and North Fort Myers brought a sign she painted “We miss you Harriet.” She placed the sign on the fencing surrounding the horse pasture where the nesting tree is located along Bayshore Road.
Michael Braun
/
WGCU
Ann Press of Philadelphia and North Fort Myers brought a sign she painted “We miss you Harriet.” She placed the sign on the fencing surrounding the horse pasture where the nesting tree is located along Bayshore Road.

A sign professing “We miss you Harriet" was placed Sunday on the fencing surrounding the horse pasture where the nesting tree is located along Bayshore Road.

Blustery conditions at the nest of Harriet and M15 in North Fort Myers blew in a different eagle moment Sunday.

Ann Press of Philadelphia and North Fort Myers brought a sign she painted “We miss you Harriet.” She placed the sign on the fencing surrounding the horse pasture where the nesting tree is located along Bayshore Road.

 Ann Press of Philadelphia and North Fort Myers brought a sign she painted “We miss you Harriet.” She placed the sign on the fencing surrounding the horse pasture where the nesting tree is located along Bayshore Road.
Michael Braun
/
WGCU
Ann Press of Philadelphia and North Fort Myers brought a sign she painted “We miss you Harriet.” She placed the sign on the fencing surrounding the horse pasture where the nesting tree is located along Bayshore Road.

Press, who was sporting a Philadelphia Eagles shirt in anticipation of Sunday's Super Bowl matchup between the Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, said she’s a fan of Harriet and M25 and had waited all week to bring the sign.

“She’s not coming back,” Press, a retired nurse, lamented. “It’s been too long.”

Harriet, breeding partner at the North Fort Myers nest with M15, has not been seen around the Bayshore nest since late in the day Feb. 2. Her disappearance has raised all manner of concerns, worries and comments from the thousands of online viewers of the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam.

The drama has caused some casual observers from the web site and others to become upset and make suggestions about placing food at the nesting tree and other recommendations, some of which go against federal laws governing protected species and can result in a fine of $100,000 ($200,000 for organizations), imprisonment for one year, or both.

An initial investigation into feeding activities at the nest was being conducted by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission. The USF&WS Friday said the issue at play involved "a behavior mitigation issue" and they were working with the FWC.

Taylor Pool, deputy assistant regional director, Office of Communications, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Southeast Regional Office, said that while the Service does not currently have an open investigation into this issue, he did confirm: "this is a behavior mitigation issue and we are working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission."

Pool added that the mortality rate during the first year of life for eagles is over 50 percent.

 M15 feeding eaglets E21 and E22 Sunday.
Southwest Florida Eagle Cam
/
Special to WGCU
M15 feeding eaglets E21 and E22 Sunday.

"Individuals who think they may be helping, could potentially be putting the eaglets at a greater risk," Pool said in an email to WGCU. "Leaving food outside/near an eagle’s nest can cause far more harm than good and potentially lead to mortality or injury of the chicks. Based on our observations, on its own the male is feeding both eaglets and at this time we do not have any plans to intervene."

The Lee County Sheriff's Office also checked at the site Sunday after reports of spectators parking in off-limits areas around the nest.

The Southwest Florida Eagle Cam site also showed an owl striking M15 and knocking him back into the nest and onto one of the eaglets overnight. No injuries were observed.

M15 has also had to deal with intruders including a female eagle that landed in and around the nest. He successfully drove off the errant raptor.

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Copyright 2023 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Michael Braun