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Murphy Lake eagle rescued for rehabilitation

Sue Burton of Williams Lake transports a wounded eagle to the Williams Lake Airport where Pacific Coastal Airlines took the injured bird to the orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Delta on Tuesday. The bird was rescued from Murphy Lake. - Monica Lamb-Yorski photo
Sue Burton of Williams Lake transports a wounded eagle to the Williams Lake Airport where Pacific Coastal Airlines took the injured bird to the orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Delta on Tuesday. The bird was rescued from Murphy Lake.
— image credit: Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

A feisty injured adult female eagle is recovering at the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation (OWL) centre in Delta after she was rescued at Murphy Lake near Williams Lake this week.

The eagle flew on Tuesday evening’s Pacific Coastal Airlines flight.

First thing Wednesday morning OWL staff examined the eagle and did an X-ray.

“She’s quite a bit underweight,” bird care staff member Martina Versteeg said. “She only weighs 3.5 kilograms. She she should be 4.5 to 5 kilograms, but she’s quite big so hopefully she will gain some weight in care here. We’re hoping for a good recovery.”

There are puncture wounds in her mouth, a callus on her leg and damage to the tip of her right wing.

Versteeg suspects interspecies fighting with another eagle may have caused the damage.

The eagle came to O.W.L.’s attention after Ken Walton of Williams Lake contacted the centre.

He first noticed her on April 27 at Murphy Lake.  There were gun shells nearby and he was worried someone had shot her.

On Tuesday, Walton and Rose Wilkinson met with local OWL volunteer Sue Burton to rescue the injured eagle.

“We got some scraps donated by Margetts Meats to feed the eagle and were able to capture her using a bed sheet,” Burton said, adding the Williams Lake BC SPCA also donated a large dog carrier for the eagle’s transport.

Versteeg said the Murphy Lake eagle is the 187th bird to arrive at OWL so far in 2014.

The centre, on average, rehabilitates 500 birds of prey a year.

They are fed moose meat donated by hunters and sometimes wild salmon.

Inside one of the cages there is a 20-metre pool that houses live trout donated by fisheries the birds can catch and eat themselves.

Once the eagle regains flight and the use of her leg, she will be returned to Murphy Lake, Versteeg said.

“We were lucky she was spotted by Ken. How else would we have heard about her. We really appreciate Sue for being available to pick the eagle up and bring her to the airport to have her shipped down to us.”

Sometimes birds are transported by truck too, she said.

Anyone else interested in volunteering, even if it’s only once a month, is encouraged to contact the centre at 1-604-946-3171.

At the airport Tuesday, the eagle was very calm and quiet in the cage, which Versteeg said is most likely because she’s undernourished.

“She’ll get that energy back in a few days,” she said.

During her examination of the eagle Versteeg noted some crackling in the eyes which could mean she is 10 or 15 or even 30 years old or more.

“It’s hard to tell, but she’s definitely one of the older ones.”

Pacific Coastal regularly transports injured animals for free, and two weeks ago transported an injured hawk from the Williams Lake airport.

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