Move-in day is still on the horizon for Lady Baltimore.
A new shelter built this spring at the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway for the non-releasable American bald eagle is waiting for the Juneau-famous raptor. The eagle’s move has been put on hold pending some changes to the shelter and permitting approval from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
“I tried to talk to them about maybe placing another bird in there, but until those issues with Lady Baltimore are met, we can’t even put another bird in there,” said Juneau Raptor Center President Dale Cotton. “If we put her up there without permission, we could have all of our permits yanked from us.”
Beth Pattinson, migratory bird permit specialist for Alaska for U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, did not return calls or an email seeking comment.
Cotton said the main sticking point is a requirement that the new mew — a raptor’s shelter — must contain a ramp so that Lady Baltimore can access the lowst branches of the tree inside the mew when she is older and less able to fly.
Lady Baltimore’s exact age is unknown, but raptor center volunteers have said she was an adult — at least 5 years old — when she was found in 2006. In captivity, eagles can live to be more than 40 years old.
“The mew does not have a ramp in it, we have different perches at different heights,” Cotton said. “We have to tweak them a bit more. We have to figure out about the ramp.”
The shelter was also built with a different make of rolling door than what was initially included in plans for the project, Cotton said, and the raptor center needs to share enrichment plans.
Enrichment in this case means things included in an exhibit that keep a bird busy and engaged, Cotton said.
For example, she said food may be placed in an egg carton, and a raptor would then need to figure out how open up the carton or rip through it to access the food. It’s like loading up a Kong with peanut butter for a family dog.
“It’s something to keep them occupied and help them out,” Cotton said.
She did not have a timeline for when Lady Baltimore may be at the tramway or for when changes to the mew will be made.
However, it’s something that will be discussed soon.
“We have a meeting planned later this week to discuss it with our program committee,” Cotton said.
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.