A Great Save


Something happened recently where a local outdoorsman, an outdoors professional, and staffers of a federal outdoors agency all seemed to downplay an event and said it was “All in a day,” when I contacted each.

I found it outstanding, so here is the story:

“Last Thursday, I saw a bald eagle in the cornfield by our house,” said Bruce Jones, of Andalusia. “We live next to the river and see eagles all the time, so that was not unusual.”

Jones said the one he saw was dragging what looked to be a fairly large animal carcass and that it hopped into the timber and just disappeared.

“The next morning I saw it in the field again still dragging something,” Jones continued. “Odds were that something was wrong, so I got as close as I could without spooking the bird too much. I was within about 100 feet and saw it was obvious that it was dragging a badly broken wing.

“I went to the house and called Jeremiah Haas, one who has also been helping with the eagle capture project at the Cordova Nuclear plant. I figured he would know whom to contact, and he sure did.”

Jones said he called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at their Moline office and told them what was going on, Only 20 minutes later they arrived.

“It was obvious that the bird had a badly injured wing; maybe it had been hit by a vehicle,” says Ryan Anthony, an eco and migratory bird biologist with the FWS.

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Several years ago, I learned at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minn. that injuries, and sometimes death, comes to eagles by vehicles more often than one might think. Eagles are opportunistic feeders often dining on road kill, and for whatever the reason, don’t always attempt to avoid passing vehicles.

To capture the injured national symbol without further harm, Jones, Anthony and Sara Schmuecker, a FWS rivers biologist, surrounded the alarmed bird.

With the trio closing in, Schmuecker was able to get a large landing net over the bird.

“We took the eagle back to our truck, and once we placed a hood over its head and boots over its talons, it calmed down,” Anthony said. “It was getting emaciated from not eating and spending awhile on the ground. We took it directly to the Iowa City animal rehab facility.

“Unfortunately the wing was damaged beyond surgical repair and had to be partially amputated,” Anthony added. “They were concerned because the bones are hollow and infections can come, but that it has not happened.”

He said the bird is now eating and recovering well and will become an “educational bird.”

To Jones, Haas, Anthony and Ms. Schmuecker, this scribe says, “Well done”—you all are good, faithful servants. While that Friday may have been a normal day for you and it was “all in a day,” you literally saved an eagle’s life. I’m sure many others feel the same way.