Shuck: Honored to aid in eagle’s rehabilitation

I’ve always had a heavy draw toward all animals. Having been raised on a small ranch in Wyoming, knowing about animals was life’s necessity.

I’ve always had a heavy draw toward all animals. Having been raised on a small ranch in Wyoming, knowing about animals was life’s necessity. My family knew about cattle, dairy goats, and poultry; but tending the goats was mundane compared to what I got to do today!

Twin Harbors Wildlife Center, a new 501(c)3 wildlife rehab on Grays Harbor, has been inundated with all creatures great and small. One of the “greats” brought in recently was a female bald eagle.

We receive many calls daily regarding orphaned or injured wildlife. Some we are fortunate enough to rehabilitate, and others we transfer to a facility that is better equipped. Eagles are raptors and need a large amount of space. We are able to do a preliminary exam and stabilize them, but we do not have an appropriate flight pen necessary for their successful rehabilitation.

This once healthy bird was brought in by a local family that had been watching her and her family thrive for many years. They spotted her lying on the ground and were able to safely capture and bring her in for help. The eagle was wet, shivering and emaciated when she arrived at the center.

Dr. Corrie Hines, a veterinarian and licensed wildlife rehabilitator, asked me to restrain the eagle while she examined her. Never having restrained a raptor, I quickly admitted my inexperience followed by “But I can follow direction and I will do the best job I can!” Whether or not my confession and subsequent appeal was helpful she didn’t say, but the doctor agreed and there I was donning thick leather gloves.

Nervous and sweating but wholly delighted, I successfully restrained the eagle for an exam and subcutaneous fluids. Aside from the feather mites crawling on both me and the doctor, we were unscathed by my amateur restraint capabilities. The eagle was very thin and weak, but the doctor said she had no broken bones, wounds or anything else suggestive of her current condition.

Transport plans started immediately, and she was transferred to PAWS wildlife center in Lynwood. Typically, when we transfer an animal to another facility, our center is hard pressed to follow up on rehabilitation efforts, so one can imagine our great pleasure when PAWS informed us of the eagle’s successful rehabilitation and upcoming release back to her home.

Today it was my honor to watch that magnificent bird walk into her home territory, take a look around at all of us, and fly away — healthy, rehabilitated and ready to return to the beauty that is Grays Harbor.

As I walked away, hiding the tears in my eyes, I quietly thanked God and later the doctors at Twin Harbors Wildlife Center for the opportunity to be involved.

As author Dr. James Herriot said, “it’s the knowing about [animals] that becomes precious.” Now I know, albeit just a little bit more, about our magnificent national bird and am eager to be a bigger part of this center’s future.

Guest columnist Holly Shuck is a veterinary technician student and receptionist at Grays Harbor Veterinary Services. People and animals are her passion. Weekdays you’ll find her excited to be with her work family, and weekends she spends her days with the lovely humans, dogs and backyard chickens in her life.