Starv­ing bald ea­gle fell out of sky into truck in Belliveaus Cove

Tri-County Vanguard - - NEWS - AN­DREW RANKIN SALTWIRE NET­WORK/CHRON­I­CLE HER­ALD

Ger­ald LeBlanc had a cig­a­rette in one hand and a cof­fee in the other when a bald ea­gle dropped like a bowl­ing ball from the sky and crash-landed five feet from him, in the back of his pickup truck.

The Belliveaus Cove res­i­dent had been en­joy­ing a quiet work break on his front steps and un­pre­pared for such a sight on Oct. 16. Nor was Rusty, his nine-year-old boxer, loung­ing close by.

“It was a bald ea­gle and I heard the thump and I just couldn’t be­lieve it,” LeBlanc had said. “Me and Rusty were in shock. Here’s this bald ea­gle crash­ing down in front of us. He tried to fly off the truck and just fell off onto the ground.”

The ju­ve­nile ea­gle was sent to the Cobe­quid Wildlife Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre. The crea­ture was so mal­nour­ished the odds of his sur­vival were only about 50-50.

Two Depart­ment of Lands and Forestry of­fi­cers had im­me­di­ately re­sponded to LeBlanc’s call. The pair quickly trans­ported the starv­ing crea­ture to the an­i­mal res­cue fa­cil­ity over 300 kilo­me­tres away.

But be­fore that, LeBlanc and Rusty had tag teamed to pre­pare the bird for travel. Rusty had gen­tly pinned the crea­ture to the ground while LeBlanc fetched a large Rub­ber­maid tub to place the ea­gle in.

He had re­called one of the sur­prised of­fi­cers say­ing he had never dealt with a case like this one.

Murdo Messer, chair­man and co-founder of Cobe­quid Wildlife Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre, fig­ured it was pure co­in­ci­dence that the ea­gle landed in LeBlanc’s truck. But he did say he was sur­prised the bird had been air­borne at all since it had lost nearly all of its mus­cle mass.

“Ex­tremely ema­ci­ated, and he was not eat­ing very well,” said Messer. “His body has been con­sum­ing its own mus­cles in or­der to stay alive.”

The ea­gle was given small amounts of flu­ids and some nutri­tion.

The cen­tre treats about 30 to 40 eagles a year, and al­most all ar­rive starv­ing and on death’s doorstep, said Messer. In this case, he fig­ured the bird was not prop­erly nour­ished as a baby and never re­cov­ered.

Messer said there are three main rea­sons why eagles come to him starv­ing. About 40 per cent of the time the ea­gle is suf­fer­ing from lead poi­son­ing picked up from eat­ing an­i­mal car­casses left be­hind by hunters. They con­tain frag­ments of lead from am­mu­ni­tion and only a pen­cil tip amount is needed to kill an ea­gle, he said. The other cases in­volve col­li­sions with au­to­mo­biles or power lines. The other pri­mary cause is elec­tro­cu­tion.

“If they’re too weak to fly they can’t hunt and if they can’t hunt, they’re go­ing to starve to death,” he said. “He’s a very sick bird but we’ll give him the best chance to re­cover.”

Un­for­tu­nately he did not.

CONTRIBUTED

The ema­ci­ated bald ea­gle af­ter ar­riv­ing at the Cobe­quid Wildlife Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre.

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