This young female bald eagle has been recovering at Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society’s (MARS) facility in Merville. File photo/Black Press

MARS puts out call for food for eagles on Vancouver Island

Rescue centre in Merville has now treated more than 20 eagles since new year

It’s been a tough winter for eagles on Vancouver Island, says animal rescue volunteers.

MARS Animal Rescue Centre has put out a call for food to help the birds they are treating. While winter is typically a tough time of year for the birds, this one has been especially harsh. Already since January, the staff and volunteers of the Merville area operation have treated 23 birds, some of which have not made survived.

While the problems have various sources, including vehicle strikes, hunger remains an underlying factor.

“They’re starving,” Jo Stiles, senior caregiver at MARS, told Black Press. “There’s not enough food in the environment for them.”

Unlike last winter, when there was a better early salmon run and more of the birds survived, this year the food sources have been scarce. This has forced the birds to look for alternate sources of food. This includes road kill, which increases the chance the birds can be struck by passing motorists, especially on the highways.

Stiles warns motorists to keep an eye for the birds feeding at the side of the road. Several of the birds brought in had been injured as a result of vehicles. When Black Press visited MARS last month, one young female that had an injured wing is now close to recovering and will be ready for release. Another wasn’t so luck, Stiles said, and just had to be euthanized.

Some eagles have been eating more smaller birds, including some game birds that might, legally or illegally, have been struck with lead shot. This, in turn, can get into the eagles’ systems when they ingest the prey. Again, the eagles are feeding off these birds because of a lack of more typical food sources for them. Many brought in are showing of malnourishment.

RELATED STORY: MARS seeing influx of sick, injured eagles from north part of Vancouver Island

“We’re feeding a lot of them,” Stiles said.

MARS is asking anyone with spare meat to consider donating it to the rescue centre to get them through this tough stretch. An example would be if someone has a spare salmon in their freezer from last year that they might not need.

“In an ideal world it would be deer or elk,” she said. “Fish is a priority.”

However, other meat such as chicken or beef will do too, she added. It should not be freezer burnt or more than two years old though.

“The food value of the meat decreases,” she said.

The herring run should return around mid-February, which will alleviate problems in connection with starvation. Stiles cautions that MARS will still have to deal with eagles that have gotten sick in connection with ingesting lead.

For more information, see http://www.marswildliferescue.com/ or call 250-337-2021.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Friday’s earthquake a reminder to be prepared, says Ucluelet mayor

“When someone says, ‘Be prepared for 72 hours,’ that means exactly that: be prepared.”

Central Westcoast Forest Society is searching for wood and trees

Scrap wood will be used to help rebuild the local salmon populations near Tofino and Ucluelet.

UPDATED: Tofino-Ucluelet highway reopens after bridge installed earlier than expected

Hwy. 4 now open to all vehicles, including delivery trucks and RVs

UPDATED: Ucluelet and Tofino mayors call for “calmness” and “empathy” as highway closure cuts communities off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

‘Big money’ funding B.C. politics now mostly from taxpayers

Campaign targets $16 million and counting in ‘politician welfare’

Ski lift closed at B.C. mountain over alleged actions of former employee

‘We are actively investigating and dealing with the actions of a former employee,’ said the resort

VIDEO: Music stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant at Grammys award show

Music artists including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Ross and Kirk Franklin paid tribute to Bryant

John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls-Royce on display at Royal BC Museum

The classic car has been a favourite for Beatles fans from Victoria and internationally

Coastal GasLink stresses pipeline ‘on a schedule’ as B.C. appoints liaison for Wet’suwet’en

670-kilometre pipeline is schedule to be completed by end of 2023

Furstenau flays NDP as she launches B.C. Green Party leadership bid

LNG, Site C dam wrong for environment, Cowichan MLA says

Woman guilty of dangerous driving crash that left Saanich girl, then 11, unresponsive

Nikirk guilty of one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm

Pregnant B.C. woman stuck in Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak

Woman is due to give birth in Wuhan, China unless she can get out

Most Read