Mukilteo Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

By David Pan 

Flight to freedom

Bird spent two weeks in rehabilitation before being released at Harbour Pointe Golf Club last week

 

Last updated 2/3/2021 at 10:53am

Debbie McGill

A male bald eagle gets a running start after he is released at the Harbour Pointe Golf Club. The eagle spent two weeks recovering from injuries at PAWS' Wildlife Center in Lynnwood. The bird likely suffered injuries from a fight with another male eagle.

He didn't hesitate for a second.

As soon as Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) naturalist Jeff Brown opened the door to the pet carrier, the eagle jumped out, spread its wings and immediately took flight, ending up on the branch of a faraway tree at the Harbour Pointe Golf Club.

The eagle has just finished two weeks of rehabilitation at PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood after apparently getting into a major altercation with another male eagle in Mukilteo. Unfortunately, the latter eagle, which was rescued by the Mukilteo Police Department and also taken to PAWS, succumbed to its injuries and died.

"This eagle came in a day later. He was found 100 feet away from where that eagle was found, but in someone's yard," Brown said. "They both had injuries, like puncture wounds and other injuries, that would be consistent that they had been fighting each other."

The surviving eagle suffered lacerations and wounds on its legs.

"We provided some pain management, and then mainly after that it was wound management to help those wounds heal quickly," Brown said. "That's why it was only in care for two weeks, because it did heal quickly."

PAWS moved the eagle to its conditioning pen, also known as the flight pen. Staff determined that the eagle was flying well and its stamina was up.

Then after receiving permission from the Harbour Pointe Golf Club, Brown drove the eagle up from the Wildlife Center in Lynnwood and released it Thursday, Jan. 28.

"That bird flew real well, straight out

there with no wind to help him," Brown said. "He's looking good. Big. Strong."

Rescuing injured wildlife is a major part of PAWS' mission, according to CEO Heidi Wills, who attended Thursday's release. She noted that not long after PAWS opened its doors in 1967 people started bringing injured and orphaned wildlife. A center dedicated to wildlife rehabilitation opened in 1989.

"We have been rehabilitating wild animals to about the tune of 5,000 per year," Wills said.

That number actually is 1,000 more than the companion animal shelter, which cares for about 4,000 cats and dogs a year. The Wildlife Center serves more than 270 species of wildlife each year. Animals can be as small as squirrels or as large as bears.

PAWS cared for 28 eagles last year, the largest number in many years. It's unclear why the number of injured eagles is increasing.

"The average stay for an eagle at PAWS was about 30 to 45 days from intake until it's rehabilitated and released," Wills said. "We usually see eagles because they've been orphaned or they've been struck by traffic. Sometimes they get caught in power lines, and sometimes there are fights over territory that eagles have."

A day earlier, PAWS released an eagle that had been under its care for almost six months after being shot.

"That was really sad," Wills said. "That took a lot of rehab. ... I saw her fly off yesterday. So she was doing really good."

It is against federal law to shoot and kill eagles under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

PAWS also does a lot of work with younger and baby birds, some of which fall out of nests.

Debbie McGill

The eagle flies away.

"We reunite those with their families," Brown said. "It's about waiting for the right moment to get that animal back into the care of its parents. Essentially, it's a combination of when the bird can fly, and it's trying to fly, but not waiting too long that the parents are leaving."

If people come across injured wildlife, they should contact the nearest wildlife rehabilitators, which is PAWS (https://www.paws.org/, 425-412-4040) for Mukilteo. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (https://bit.ly/36tY2kK, 425-775-1311) also can provide referrals to licensed wildlife rehabilitators.

"We always recommend going to the closest caregiver," Brown said. "It's better for the animals, shorter transport time."

 

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