A juvenile eagle that was rescued in Ucluelet could be released this fall.
“He is actually doing very well. He’s in our flight cage right now. We’re giving him some flight training and making sure he’s good and strong,” said Animal Care Supervisor Tawny Molland of Errington’s North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. “He’s flying well and, hopefully in the next few months, we’ll be releasing him.”
She said the centre plans to release the bird in the same area it was found, but must wait for the right conditions before sending it back into the wild.
“Because he is a juvenile, we want to make sure that he has a good food source so that he’s not struggling,” she said. “I don’t want to release him if there’s no proper food source for him, or if it’s breeding season when lots of fighting is happening with eagles. ”
The roughly two-year-old bird was found covered in an unidentified substance that had rendered it flightless near Ucluelet’s Brown’s Beach in March. Locals who spotted the animal reached out to the local Coastal Animal Rescue and Education Network for help and CARE volunteer Tara Wood immediately agreed to transport the eagle to the recovery centre.
“I quickly found a large crate, grabbed my heavy duty work gloves and headed down there,” Wood said adding her friend Darcy Bouvier came with her to assist. “As I approached, I realized that he was by no means subdued or physically injured. He was covered in some sort of substance. I approached carefully. He was obviously scared and hostile.”
She said the eagle proved tough to catch and flipped onto its back, stretching its wings, when she got close.
“He was hissing and snapping one-inch branches with his talons like it was nothing. I used a towel and got him to latch on with his talons so that he couldn’t use them on me. I then needed to try and get his wings back in,” she said. “They were caught up in a bunch of prickles. Every time I got one [wing] in, I would try the other. Then he would spread the other one back out…I did get a little frustrated when I would get one wing in, then he would shoot the other one back out.”
She said once she had the eagle’s wings secured, she wrapped the bird in a thick blanket and covered him up so that it could not reach her with its beak as she carried it out of the bog and into her vehicle.
“I wasn’t nervous or scared. I felt really bad for him and just wanted him to get the help he needed,” she said. “I am really hopeful that when he is released I can attend. It would be a nice full-circle moment for me…It was a very satisfying feeling knowing that I was able to help such an amazing animal. And, to know that he is doing well is so wonderful.”
A baby bear rescued in Tofino also headed to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre on Saturday.