Story at a glance

  • An Idaho farmer has reportedly lost dozens of lambs in a series of bald eagle attacks that began in April.
  • Rocky Mathews told The Times-News that eagles have nested on his farm near Murtaugh Lake for decades but that they never harmed his flock.
  • “They’ve never crossed paths till this year,” Matthews said.

An Idaho farmer has reportedly lost dozens of lambs in a series of bald eagle attacks beginning in April. 

Rocky Mathews told The Times-News that eagles have nested on his farm near Murtaugh Lake for decades but that they never harmed his flock. Before witnessing an attack, Matthews assumed his lambs were victims of pellet gun shots, he told the outlet. 

“They’ve never crossed paths till this year,” Matthews said. “The damage under the hide is a hundredfold from what you see on the exterior.” 


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Matthews has lost a total of 54 lambs and incurred losses of about $7,500, according to the outlet. The Idaho farmer lost seven lambs in one day at the height of the attacks. The dead animals weighed between 12 and 80 pounds, the farmer said. 

“I truly think he was just honing his skills because you don’t kill seven of them out of need,” Matthews said of one of the four eagles who live in a nest on his farm.


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The farmer told the outlet he believes his flock was susceptible to the attacks because of the lack of prey available in a nearby lake that took longer than usual to warm.

Given the stiff penalties for killing the protected species, including fines of up to $100,000 and a year in prison for the first offense, Matthews elected to relocate his flock instead of pursuing legal recourse, which could take time his flock might not have. 

“In 45 days, I’ll be out of sheep,” Matthews told the outlet.


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Published on Jun 04, 2021