Dead eagle might be part of beloved duo

LAKE STEVENS — Marlene Sweet received a telephone call Friday morning with bad news: An eagle near Lake Stevens was killed after lightning struck a tree.

Sweet, who lives in Lake Stevens and has tracked information about eagles for years, is worried that the dead eagle may have been one of a pair that has lived around the lake for 25 years.

The pair are affectionately known as George and Martha.

“If they say it was an older female, I would say it’s Martha,” she said. “I have a bad feeling.”

Doug Zimmer, a spokesman for the Western Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, said Friday afternoon that a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent was contacted at about 9 a.m. by a resident in the area who said a tree near the south end of the lake had been hit by lightning and there was a dead eagle.

“(The eagle) flew into a tree that was right out in front of a house,” Zimmer said. “It was storming and hailing and lightning hit the tree.”

The agent confirmed that the mature eagle died from trauma caused by the lightning strike, Zimmer added.

The death of the eagle was first reported by KING 5, who had a photographer in the area shooting footage of the downed tree and discovered the eagle’s corpse.

Sweet said she went out to the site near South Lake Stevens Road but the dead eagle had been taken away.

Sweet said the pair are known to hang out at the north end of the lake. The eagle was struck on the opposite end of the lake but Sweet was still concerned that the dead adult eagle was part of the pair.

When an eagle dies, the carcass is sent to The National Eagle Repository, northeast of Denver, Colo. The eagle is examined to confirm the cause of its death and then parts of the bird are shipped to Native Americans, Zimmer said.

“Things happen to eagles so we have a process of getting them back into federal hands,” Zimmer said. “Native Americans use eagle parts for cultural purposes and there’s always a waiting list. We don’t waste any parts of any eagles.”

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

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