An Idaho farmer has lost 54 of his lambs in a series of bald eagle attacks that began in April, according to a report.
Rocky Matthews, who owns a farm near Murtaugh Lake in Idaho, started finding dead lambs in April on his farm and initially thought someone was killing the animals with a pellet gun, The Times-News reported.
Matthews told the media outlet that eagles have nested on his farm for over 20 years, but have never launched attacks on his animals.
“They’ve never crossed paths till this year,” he said.
“The damage under the hide is a hundredfold from what you see on the exterior,” he said.
Matthews believes the eagles, mostly known for killing and eating fish, resorted to killing his lambs because the water in Murtaugh Lake took longer to warm up this spring, meaning fewer carp in the lake were available to the eagles.
Lyn Snoddy, a biologist at Idaho Department of Fish and Game regional wildlife, said eagles strike from above using their talons, which can sever internal arteries and cause animals to bleed out.
Eagles are protected by multiple U.S Federal laws, including the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Violators could face maximum $100,000 fines and one year in prison.
Matthews who has since moved his livestock closer to his barn to avoid future attacks, said he has lost about $7,500 in revenue from the 54 lambs killed.