Death by Train:
The Swedish Railway Tracks Putting Eagles at Risk
This article contains graphic images of dead animals.
Near the towns of Högsjö and Kilsmo lies one of Sweden’s beautiful nature reserves, Sottern. This lake and forest area is only 40 kilometers from Örebro, and it’s home to bathing sites, campgrounds, and a diverse ecosystem. What most people don’t know about this typical Swedish summer spot is that it also is defined by a very real problem – dead eagles. Two of Sweden's biggest birds of prey, the golden and white-tailed eagles, face many threats: habitat loss, lead poisoning, poaching, and wind farms are some of the issues affecting their populations. But there is one particular human-related activity putting eagles at a higher risk of death – train collisions.
A dead eagle lies by the tracks. Photo: Bosse Forsling
"IT SHOULDN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY"
The injured eagle that Forsling had to euthanize. Photo: Bosse Forsling
The Högsjö–Kilsmo stretch is the deadliest, according to official numbers. There have been 31 reported deaths between the two stations. Illustration: Sara Silvennoinen
FLAWS IN PREVENTING COLLISIONS
The remains of run-over animals attract eagles to the tracks. Photo: Bosse Forsling
WHY IT MATTERS
White-tailed eagles almost became extinct in the 1970s. Photo: Steve Herring
Note concerning data:
The data this investigation originates from a request to Trafikverket. The Swedish Transport Administration has sent us a dataset containing information on number of reported dead eagles, date of reporting and location of the nearest station. The original dataset is available here. The cleaned dataset is available here.