The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is closely monitoring feather loss in golden eagles and other large raptors in central California.
Several cases of severe mite infestation, or mange, in young golden eagles have been documented in Alameda and Monterey counties in 2013 as well as San Benito County in 2012. All of the eagles had significant feather loss and crusting of the skin on their head, neck, legs and lower abdomen.
Feather loss impacts the eagle’s ability to maintain normal body temperature and could limit their ability to obtain food, becoming weak and susceptible to trauma.
Severe mite infestation is unusual in birds, especially adult birds. No such infestation has been previously documented among golden eagles.
CDFW is currently working with researchers from East Bay Regional Park District, Monterey County SPCA and the University of California, Davis to thoroughly document these cases, identify the mite and evaluate any underlying health conditions.
CDFW is also asking residents to be on the lookout for golden eagles or other large birds that appear to be suffering from severe feather loss. If you find a live eagle on the ground, do not attempt to capture the bird yourself, as they can be extremely dangerous. Please contact your local licensed wildlife rehabilitation center for assistance at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/WIL/rehab/facilities.html.