This eagle is resting up at the North Island Widlife Recovery Centre in Errington after a rough crash in Ucluelet on July 18. (Photo - North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre)
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This eagle is resting up at the North Island Widlife Recovery Centre in Errington after a rough crash in Ucluelet on July 18. (Photo - North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre)

VIDEO: Eagle receiving treatment after crash in Ucluelet

“It’s got mild signs of some head trauma maybe, just the way its pupils are moving.”

An injured eagle was transported from Ucluelet to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington on Wednesday night after crashing into a local residence the day before.

Ucluelet local Crystal Wright told the Westerly News she was eating lunch inside her Eber Road home when she heard a commotion outside and looked out to see an eagle fly into her window.

“I heard of bunch of crows calling and I looked and they were chasing an eagle,” she said. “The eagle looked up for one second and then it hit my back window.”

She said she went outside and found the eagle unconscious.

“The crows started to come down and try to peck the eagle and try to attack it, so I stayed there for a little bit because it was stunned. It was knocked out. I was trying to get the birds away from him,” she said. “He started coming around so, I thought, ‘I’ll just leave him for a little bit and he’ll hopefully fly away,’ but it didn’t.”

After 24 hours passed and the eagle continued hopping around her yard seemingly unable to fly away, she started calling anyone she could think of seeking treatment for the bird.

“I knew, at that point, that something was wrong with it,” she said. “I got a hold of the CARE Network and they hooked me up with Ryan Wackett from Westcoast Connect…It was really fortunate for Ryan to come and volunteer to take it down all the way.”

Wackett, who owns and operates Westcoast Connect, a cargo and freight company based in Nanaimo, arrived with a crate and was able to capture the eagle and transport it to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre.

He told the Westerly News he’d never wrangled an eagle before, but was happy to help.

“It was an amazing experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat…We’re really down with helping out the community and helping out wildlife especially,” he said adding he consistently donates to the wildlife recovery centre. “We’ve been there a few times and we love it. So it was kind of a no brainer.”

The centre’s wildlife manager Julie Mackey told the Westerly News on Thursday that the eagle was resting and would be assessed fully on Friday.

“It’s had two good meals so far. It is a thin bird so it needs some good nutrition. It’s able to stand up. It’s got mild signs of some head trauma maybe, just the way its pupils are moving…We want to just give it a day of low stress after being caught and transported last evening,” Mackey said adding a full-body X-Ray would be conducted. “We’ll do a full body exam first to stretch wings out, stretch feet out check the inside of its mouth feel its body condition seeing if there are any sort of obvious external signs as to what the problem is.”

She was thrilled to see locals come together to get the animal to treatment.

“Wild species are facing more and more problems these days with people in their territory and there’s more dangers to them so if we have people that care enough to try and catch them and help them that’s wonderful,” she said.

Wright suggested Eber Road hosts a constant flurry of bird activity because of the nearby fish plants and noted BC Hydro installed reflectors on power lines in the area to deter birds from running into them, though that still happens often.

“It actually just happened yesterday, a crow hit the power line and the power went out here,” she said.

She said her window was surprisingly undamaged, though some fur remained stuck to it as evidence of the crash, but neighbouring residents have had their windows smashed out by eagles.

“Unfortunately it happens a couple times a year where birds are hitting the wires and eagles are hitting windows but this was a first time for me at my house,” she said. “It was quite a thing to see an eagle up that close. It was really cool. We’re wishing he would have flown away on his own, but we’re grateful that people helped out.”

She hopes the eagle is released soon.

“I’m hoping they can fix him up,” she said. “Eagles do mate for life so it was kind of a touchy thing of what we were going to be doing with it, because, if you’re going to take it out of here, well he could have a mate.”

The centre is currently rehabilitating another Ucluetian eagle that came in after being found on Cedar Road on March 29.

“Somebody found him just sitting roadside…He was able to fly short distances, but he wasn’t able to gain any height so people were able to catch him and grab him and brought him down to us,” Mackey said. “It’s made it through all the graduated steps of rehab and it’s flying in our big 110-foot flight cage right now.”

She said the recovering eagle is “showing all the signs that he’ll be releasable again,” but the centre will wait for hunting conditions to improve in the fall before setting him free.

“They’ve got good access to food here, so we’ll wait until the habitat conditions are not so hot and dry and low-food and, as soon as fish are running, he would be on the roster for release.”

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