(Leila Riddall photo)

Haida Gwaii eagles recovering in Ladner care facility

Treatment for the eagles is both costly and time intensive

Four eagles from Haida Gwaii are currently recovering at the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) in Ladner after suffering a number of injuries in the past several weeks.

All four were injured around Masset, incurring damages including electrocution, lead poisoning and a suspected impact with a vehicle. The injuries were suffered after the eagles were attracted to an area where garbage had been improperly dumped.

Rob Hope, the raptor care manager at OWL, is in charge of rehabilitating the birds. He explained some of the care and cost that the non-profit organization provides.

“One lead poisoned eagle, depending on the severity of the poisoning, with time and administering medication can be $1,000 easy a month,” Hope said. “For treatment on electrocutions that could be $150 to $200 a week.”

Leila Riddall of the Masset Animal Helpline helped to recover the injured eagles. (Leila Riddall photo)

This means costs can add up quickly, as the injuries usually call for long-term recoveries.

“A broken wing can take four to six weeks for the bone to heal, and then after that it would be getting them through to the flight cage. So you’re looking at almost four months,” Hope explained.

READ MORE: Rehabilitated juvenile eagle released in Old Massett

“Lead poisoning can take up to nine or 10 months depending on the severity. Unfortunately lead can mess with the brain as well as the internal organs,” Hope said. “So sometimes we can save the bird from the lead, but the long term damage is too great. The animal can’t go back to the wild if his brain isn’t working properly.”

Hope said the vast majority of eagle injury incidents are human caused, including all four in this case. Aside from the obvious step of not disposing of our garbage in the woods, Hope suggests hunters use alternatives to lead bullets to reduce the risk of poisoning.

Garbage disposed at the Masset site. (Leila Riddall photo)

Hope also mentioned how power lines themselves can be altered to prevent injuries. The Vancouver Landfill lies across Highway 99 from the OWL facility, and sees a high volume of eagle traffic. After a series of electrocutions, OWL and BC Hydro worked to add perches on top of the power lines in the area to give the eagles a safe place to land and rest.

“All we can do is use these cases as an example for educating and making people aware,” Hope said of the takeaways from these incidents. “Hopefully with time we’ll eliminate or minimize the amount of animals that are injured.”

READ MORE: Positive prognosis for poisoned Vancouver Island eagles


Alex Kurial | Journalist
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