What Are a Golden Eagle's Enemies?


Quick Answer

As an apex predator, a healthy adult golden eagle has no natural predators, although grizzly bears and wolverines have been reported to kill nestlings. However, historically and in modern times, humans have posed the greatest threat to the birds' population. Native Americans killed golden eagles for cultural and ceremonial purposes, while ranchers killed thousands in an effort to protect their livestock.

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Full Answer

Initially believed to hunt and kill livestock and threaten the livelihood of ranchers, golden eagles were shot and killed en masse, with 1936 seeing the advent of aerial hunts via helicopters. However, studies proved that golden eagles had a negligible effect on the population of livestock, while the University of Michigan suggests that their consumption of rabbits, who compete for resources with livestock, benefits livestock in the long term. Following these studies, the United States government amended the Bald Eagle Protection Act to cover adult golden eagles along with their nests, young and eggs. Although it's illegal to hunt golden eagles, they are still poisoned by lead shot from carcasses they scavenge from or killed by wind-turbine blades they fly into. They are also facing extinction from habitat loss as their natural habitats are converted into farmland or paved over, reducing the small-animal population that the birds use for food.

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