Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lending A Helping Hand

Tonight my friend Penny ,who works at Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center here on San Juan Island, asked me if I could help out with a Bald Eagle that was coming in on the 10 0'clock ferry.  I said sure.  Coming from a background in biology and having worked at one point with Bald Eagles I was more than happy to help out.  

We made our way down to the ferry and picked up a box.  Inside the box was an adult Bald Eagle, but you would not have know it.  It was perfectly quite and still.  We drove out to the Center with light snow falling.  Both of us wondering if the bird was even alive in the quite of the car.  Once at the center and opening the box it was alive.  It seemed to be pretty alert and not completely stressed out give the circumstance.  The Eagle was removed from the box and set up to be handled safely.  During examination Penny notice and injury to one of the wings.  The reports said that the Eagle had been on the ground for awhile.  So finding and injury to the wing seemed to be on par with the reports.  In further examination there was a complete break of one if its legs.  It was shattered and the massive talon'ed foot laid limp.  Penny informs me this is not an bird that can be rehabilitated due to the break in the leg.  I was pretty surprised how calm and the lack of the appearance of shock the Eagle was displaying.  It was an unfortunate but understanding event that had to take place.  As wonderful as it is to see a magnificent bird such as a Bald Eagle.  It is never a pleasant sight to see one in pain.  By euthanizing the animal it saves it from possible days of suffering in the wild to a point of death due to starvation.  If one can only see the merciful good in the necessity of euthanization in certain times.  Then you can understand that it is a favor to the animal in the long run.

I did not feel compelled to take any images of the Eagle.  It is one thing to collect and share images of beautiful wildlife.  But it is not in my heart to take images of a wonderful and beautiful bird in its last moments.  I am sorry I have no images to share with this story.

I know that my friend Penny has to deal with this situation all the time.  I feel that making decisions to euthanize wildlife and being the one to administer the final injection, is hard.  I hope she can only see that by ending the suffering of an innocent animal that she is doing a honorable thing.  

Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center has been operating on San Juan Island for many years. They rely heavily on local volunteers and donations from the public.  If you are a islander and wish to volunteer please be advised it is to do work, not simply hangout and view the wildlife. But if you are interested in learning more please visit the WHWRC website.  If you are someone who has a great compassion for wildlife and their increasing struggle to survive in an ever developing world.  You make donations to WHWRC.  Everything helps when it comes to helping animals in the wild live alongside humans.

I hope everyone out there is having a good night.

1 comment:

Penny said...

Thanks for your help again. It would have been impossible to do the most humane thing without someone there to help hold the eagle for me.

Next time I will try to include you in on helping me with something more promising (of survival, b/c you are right, the quick release of pain through death is promising, just not as happy).

I did take radiographs of the leg and wing today. Besides the break being visible to the touch it wasn't a clean one, and I can only imagine the damage to nerves/muscles from the jagged ends of the bones. The wing injury showed heavy calcification to the distal end of the humerus, but no distinct breaks (could have been a chip). I didn't do anything with the hematoma that was around it, it may have shown it to be infected as well.

Once again thanks.