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Injured juvenile eagle rescued by Wolfville firefighters expected to make full recovery

This injured juvenile bald eagle was rescued from the mud by members of the Wolfville Fire Department and is currently in the care of Hope For Wildlife.
This injured juvenile bald eagle was rescued from the mud by members of the Wolfville Fire Department and is currently in the care of Hope For Wildlife. - Contributed

Young raptor in care of Hope For Wildlife

WOLFVILLE, N.S. —

She hoped to land a striped bass but ended up capturing an injured bald eagle instead.

Capt. Kathy Babcooke of the Wolfville Fire Department recently went fishing off the dikes just outside of town. She spotted two juvenile eagles sitting on the bank not far from where she intended to cast her line.

They didn’t seem to want to leave the spot at first but eventually they did. Babcooke walked over to where the eagles were sitting, looked down and saw another young eagle stuck in the mud. She said her heart sank.

“At that point, I thought he was dead,” Babcooke said. “I started talking to him because I just wanted to see if he responded and he put up his head and opened his eyes.”

Although she was greatly relieved, the eagle was exhausted and she didn’t have a lot of hope for him. He had a fishing hook attached to a piece of line embedded through his tongue and lower beak. The other end of the line was attached to a sinker that was anchored in the mud.

Babcooke called her fellow firefighters. Chief Todd Crowell, Capt. Doug Ross and Capt. Rich Johnson came out with a blanket that they used to wrap around the eagle.

“He was so tired and so exhausted that he hardly fought at all, he just made some noises,” Babcooke said.

She cut the fishing line the eagle was attached to and her fellow firefighters took the injured raptor to the Wolfville Fire Hall to remove the fishing hook.

Crowell said that after they extracted the hook, they contacted the Department of Lands and Forestry. Staff from the department took the eagle to the Hope For Wildlife facility in Seaforth.

Crowell said firefighters get called on occasion to rescue animals, such as cats stuck in trees, but this was the first time he was involved in rescuing an eagle. It feels good as a firefighter to be able to help animals in distress.

Hope For Wildlife founder and director Hope Swinamer commends the Wolfville firefighters on the “amazing” job they did.

“I just think it’s wonderful that they were able to help out and save that eagle,” she said.

Swinamer said in an Aug. 15 interview that the eagle is doing well. They had the bird x-rayed completely and had blood work conducted. They discovered an older injury to the eagle’s scapula – what would be referred to as the collarbone in a human – but it was healing.

“We gave him a bit of cage rest but now he’s out in our flight cage. He has some flight but we’re just keeping an eye on him and seeing how he’s doing,” Swinamer said.

They’ll keep the eagle in their care for the next couple of weeks with the hope that he can be released into the wild sometime in early September. Swinamer said it might take a little longer for the raptor to recover but scapula injuries generally don’t take very long to heal.

She said the injury probably had a lot to do with why the eagle was on the ground and so thin when discovered by Babcooke.

Considering that the rescue involved the Wolfville Fire Department, the Department of Lands and Forestry and Hope For Wildlife, Babcooke said “it was a team effort to save this little guy.” She is grateful to Hope For Wildlife for nursing the eagle back to health and said there are amazing people involved with the organization.

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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