Tampa Bay wildlife advocate concerned about bald eagle after snatching shark in viral video

Pinellas County

DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) -When Kim Begay saw the viral video of the bald eagle swooping in and stealing a fisherman’s catch on Dunedin Causeway, she knew exactly what she was looking at, and who.

Begay is the vice president and conservation advocate for the Clearwater Audobon Society and she also speaks on behalf of the Audobon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland.

Kim Begay says she’s performed thousands of bird rescues and a majority of them involve fishing line and hooks.

The eagle is named Eugene. She says it’s gone through rehabilitation twice after breaking a leg as a fledgling.

She says her behavior is concerning.

“I’m just worried about Eugene because if she keeps up with this kind of behavior and it continues I’m worried that eventually, she’s going to get tangled in line if she flies into it,” said Begay. “And somebody’s going to be too afraid to deal with it.”

The fisherman in the video does not cut the line. Begay says that’s the number one “no-no” if you accidentally catch a bird, especially a bird of prey. The video provided Begay a platform to speak about what you should and should not do.

“The most important thing is don’t cut the line. What we mean is don’t cut the line leaving the bird a trailing 10, 15, 20 feet of trailing line because it’s usually a death sentence,” said Begay. “They end up hanging somewhere. They get caught up.”

Begay also posted on social media urging those in the area to be on the lookout for Eugene.

“She has been stalking people fishing along the Dunedin Causeway and trying to get their catch. I fear she will end up getting hooked and tangled and someone will do the wrong thing… cut the line, letting her go with trailing line, which can end up badly when she gets tangled in a tree or light pole, etc. People fishing need to be aware… if they get her hooked or tangled, DO NOT cut the line with line trailing. It could end very badly. Keep her on the line, text, and then call a local raptor rescue organization like Raptor Center of Tampa Bay at 813-205-1851, Owl’s Nest Sanctuary at 813-598-5926, or Seaside Seabird Sanctuary at 727-391-6211 and wait for the rescuer to get there!”

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