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The famous Decorah Bald Eagles sit next to their nest near Decorah, Iowa on Tuesday, February 14, 2012. (RICK CHASE / Courier Staff Photographer)

DECORAH, Iowa --- One of the famous Northeast Iowa eagles was found dead Sunday morning.

D12, the first of three to hatch in March, was discovered at the base of a power pole near the nest at the Decorah Fish Hatchery. The eaglet reportedly was electrocuted.

"These things sometimes do happen," said Bob Anderson of the Raptor Resource Project, which operates a streaming video of the birds. "When they have an eight-foot wing span, it sometimes touches two wires."

Identifying the American bald eagle as D12 wasn't difficult, Anderson added.

"Everybody around here knows the eagles," he said. "The world knows. They follow it so closely they could tell the difference. Each bird has unique spotting of feathers on its tail, and each bird has a little bit different color of feathers."

This is the first known tragedy from the Decorah nest, according to a Facebook post by the Raptor Resource Project.

Nearly 1,700 had commented just two hours after the death announcement, including one woman, Joann Blackwell, who wrote: "I feel like a member of my family has passed."

The site also shared a June 10 photo of D12, whose sex has not been determined. The body is being turned over to the Department of Natural Resources.

"We thank all of you for your heartfelt thoughts on this loss," the Raptor Resource Project wrote.

Alliant Energy has now installed insulation shields on several poles in the area to prevent future problems, Anderson said.

The Decorah eagle cam went viral in 2011. Millions of people from 184 countries worldwide watched the eagle family as they built a nest, laid eggs, struggled with bad weather and other animals and cared for their young, who grew from downy babies to juvenile predators on the wing, according to the organization's website.

"It's one of the largest wildlife education efforts on planet Earth, and people get very attached when they see them hatch and emerge," Anderson said.

The parent eagles have produced 14 babies over the last five years, including two the first year and three annually since then.

Anderson said he saw the other two most recent additions --- D13 and D14 --- on Tuesday, and both are fine.

A satellite transmitter placed on one of last year's babies has tracked the bird to Canada, at Polar Bear Provincial Park on the Hudson Bay.

"Who would have ever guessed that an Iowa eagle would spend its summer in the arctic?" Anderson said.

The camera shut down for the season Saturday. Anderson said the offseason will be used to test and install new cameras, computers and audio equipment for the 2013 nesting season. Raptor Resource also will build and install nest boxes for peregrine and kestrel falcons, and begin a kestrel program.


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