Sooke residents are being thanked by wildlife rehabilitators for doing their best to help save an injured bald eagle.
The eagle’s plight was discovered Dec. 28 when the BC SPCA’s Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre in Metchosin received reports of a grounded bird in the Sooke area, but they were unable to capture it, said Wallis Moore Reid, senior wildlife rehabilitator with the Wild ARC.
“We are tremendously grateful these individuals were able to stay on the scene,” Moore Reid said. “The public is really the ears and eyes of Wild ARC, so keeping an eye out for wildlife in distress, we are very grateful for that.”
In a Facebook message to Black Press, Angela Babcock said she woke up to the sounds of screaming ravens on Dec. 29 and quickly discovered they were reacting to the eagle in her yard. After scaring away the ravens and realizing something was wrong with the eagle, she tried to herd it into her shed so it could be looked after.
Using a cheese bun as a lure, Babcock first tossed a piece to the bird to see if it liked it, then reached out with another, which the eagle quickly grabbed and did not let go of. She gently pulled the bird toward the open shed door then let go so the eagle could walk inside.
Staying with an injured animal and containing it until Wild ARC arrive is exactly what Moore Reid encourages people to do in this type of situation.
“As a non-profit organization with limited resources, we do rely on members of the public to help … stay on scene to keep eyes on the animal’s location so our personnel can safely contain the animal on arrival,” she said.
While the rescue went well, it was not enough to save the eagle’s life. Once it was admitted into care, wildlife rehabilitators quickly learned the bird was emaciated and had a serious, infected injury that would prevent it from flying and thus, hunting and eating.
Given the seriousness of the injuries and the suffering the eagle would have already endured, Moore Reid said, the decision was made to euthanize it.
There was no clear indication what caused the bird’s injuries, but Moore Reid said it is fairly common for Wild ARC to receive reports of injured eagles. Common injury sources include being hit by vehicles and getting into fights with other animals.
In the winter, the birds can also struggle to find food. If they go too long without eating, they can become too weak to fly.
If anyone finds a wild animal in distress, Moore Reid urges them to contact Wild ARC at 1-855-622-7722 and to contain the animal as safely and quickly as they can to give responders time to reach it.