Two injured bald eagles are being treated and observed by a Chimacum veterinarian after they were both found last week in what state Department of Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Phil Henry called “a rare occurrence.”
Henry tracked and captured the two injured birds just days apart, one along state Highway 104 and the other at Fort Flagler.
“We do get calls about injured bald eagles from time to time,” Henry said.
“I can’t give you an exact number, but I can say that it is very uncommon for two calls to come in this quickly.”
Henry feels it’s important to protect bald eagles. While not considered endangered, he feels the species is vulnerable.
“It’s considered protected wildlife,” he said. “Even though they aren’t endangered, I feel like there aren’t a whole lot of them around.
“To me this is a species of concern, and it’s important to rescue them when possible.”
Henry said the first eagle, which he guessed was a five-year-old, 20-pound bird, probably had been struck by a car along state Highway 104 on Wednesday afternoon.
Henry, along with State Patrol Lt. Clint Casebolt and Trooper Don Field, tracked the injured bird through the underbrush near the highway at about 2 p.m. It had a broken wing.
The eagle underwent surgery Thursday morning at Chimacum Valley Veterinary Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Tony Rogstad and is recovering, according to a spokeswoman for the vet.
“I have heard he is doing well,” Henry said.
“The wing was repaired, but if he will fly again remains to be seen.”
Trooper Krista Hedstrom, spokeswoman for the State Patrol, said it is unusual for troopers to find injured eagles.
“Unfortunately when we do, it is usually due to a collision with a motor vehicle,” she said in a prepared statement.
The second eagle, a three-year-old in the 15-pound range, was found by state parks staff at Fort Flagler on Friday morning.
Henry stalked through thick woods and muddy swamp for an hour before capturing the bird, and taking it to the Chimacum veterinary hospital.
“It appeared to have something wrong internally,” Henry said.
“He had a pronounced breastbone, and that usually means malnutrition or starvation.
“He also may have eaten something bad for him, and is just very sick.”
The cause of the eagle’s illness will be better known after examination and blood work, Henry said.
If it is discovered that the eagle was starving, it wouldn’t be because there isn’t enough food available for eagles, Henry said.
Some bad hunters
“Some eagles are bad hunters, for whatever reason,” he said. “Some of them might have learned wrong, or are bad hunters for other reasons.
“You usually find out around that age, three or four, how well they are doing.”
Rogstad is also a rehabilitation specialist for wildlife and will work with the birds during their recovery.
Hedstrom said that Chimacum Valley Veterinary Hospital and the Northwest Raptor Center in Sequim are the two locations where injured wildlife are taken for treatment and rehabilitation in Clallam and Jefferson counties.
________Reporter Erik Hidle can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]