When Jeff Krieger was called to help a bird in trouble in Metchosin, he did not expect to have to hike through the bush carrying a furious eagle and the remains of a rotting deer carcass.
The B.C. SPCA’s Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre received a call about the eagle from area resident Marcia Farquhar in early February.
Krieger, owner of Alternative Wildlife Solutions, was asked to take a look.
“It was flat on its face under a tree — I couldn’t understand it,” said Krieger, who does contract work for Wild ARC.
A closer look revealed that the adult bald eagle had been feeding on a long-dead deer and one of the deer bones had flipped over its wing. The alarmed eagle had then apparently gone around in circles, pulling sinews and other remains tightly around its wing, effectively tying itself to the dead deer.
“It was really bizarre,” Krieger said.
With no scissors or other tools at hand, the only choice was to pick up the eagle — with large bits of extremely smelly deer attached — and hike back to his truck, about half a kilometre away, he said.
“It was so tight around his wing that there was no circulation. He was trying to bite me and ended up biting himself because he had no feeling,” Krieger said.
That damaged the wing even further. Krieger cut away as much of the deer as he could and headed to Wild ARC, afraid the bird was not going to make it.
“First they had to figure out if there was any circulation left,” he said.
Wild ARC manager Kari Marks said the bird responded well to its treatment of pain medication, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.
In addition to the wing injuries and self-inflicted bites, the eagle had a healed wound from a .22 slug that was still in its shoulder.
“Who knows how long that had been there,” Marks said.
On Thursday, the now-healthy bird spread its wings as it was released from a Metchosin rooftop.
“It was wonderful,” Marks said. “He circled all the way around us and then took off.”
There was a concern about two other eagles in the area, as they can be territorial, Marks said. “But the other eagles didn’t budge and then he joined them. They were probably family or knew him.”