An eagle rescued Tuesday is being treated at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, where X-rays revealed the bird had been shot.
On Tuesday afternoon, Kathy Benner, manager of the Juneau Raptor Center, received a call about an injured bird in the yard of a homeowner off Back Loop Road. She and another volunteer arrived to find the eagle alert and laying face down.
“As we approached the bird, he didn’t move,” Benner said. “I was able to put a sheet over him and pick him up.”
At the clinic, volunteers determined that the bird had suffered a broken leg. Based on the extent of the eagle’s injuries, he was given pain medication and flown to Sitka about an hour after the rescue. He was evaluated and treated by their veterinarian, who discovered the gunshot wound.
“It’s sad,” she said. “This was a very healthy eagle. He was in really good shape for this point in the winter.” She added that eagles who are struggling to survive are often thin by this time of year, but that this eagle was plump and healthy.
A federal investigation of the incident is underway, according to Benner.
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 prohibits anyone from “taking” bald eagles, including their parts, nests or eggs without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior. Violations can result in a $100,000 fine for people and up to $200,000 for organizations along with up to a year in prison for a first offense. A second offense is a felony and carries increased penalties.
Anyone with information about the shooting, which likely took place between Mendenhall Loop and Montana Creek Road on Monday or Tuesday, is encouraged to contact the Juneau Raptor Center by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The eagle’s current condition is unavailable because of the ongoing investigation. However, Benner said that some rescued eagles are able to return to the wild.
“The eagle’s future depends on his injury,” she said. “Eagles must be able to fly, hunt and not be in pain before they can be released.”
She noted that Lady Baltimore, the eagle kept at the tram station atop Mount Roberts is blind in one eye due to a gunshot wound.
The Juneau Raptor Center rescues about 200 birds each year, including about 50 eagles. If you find a bird in distress, contact the Juneau Raptor Center emergency hotline at 790-5424. Volunteers monitor the line 24 hours a day.
• Contact Dana Zigmund at Dana.Zigmund@juneauempire.com.