Miramichi bald eagle released to home turf after 3-month rehabilitation

A bald eagle has been returned to the wild three months after a serious wing injury brought the bird to the Atlantic Wildlife Institute in Sackville, N.B. 

Pam Novak, ‎director of wildlife care, said that when the eagle was brought to the service in mid-January, staff weren't sure the bird would fully recover and fly again because the injury was so nasty.

"They kind of need their wings and they kind of need them working at 100 per cent," said Novak.

The eagle had caught its right wing in a coyote snare in the Miramichi area. The wire from the snare was wrapped very tightly around the wing and caused extensive damage.

"It was quite sore and swollen — just a messy, messy injury," Novak said.

The organization first had to get all the wire off the wing, which Novak said was an ordeal because the wire became deeply embedded during the bird's thrashing around to try to free itself.

After the wire was removed and the wound cleaned, the eagle received medication and was kept in closed quarters to help the healing.

Long recovery

During the recovery, Novak said, the eagle tried to hold the affected wing in place and use it.

"Little by little, you just kind of move him through the process to kind of see how he starts moving it on his own and wanting to see what kind of movement we can get out of it."

The eagle was moved to a bigger space so it could flex its wings and exercise before being moved to a larger flight aviary.

Novak said once in there, it took about a week for the eagle to get up on perches and fully extend the wings.

"But then he finally got up to the upper perches and started flying around and be able to maneuver and then we know we are on the road to release after that."

Novak said the eagle was returned to its home turf in the Miramichi area — eagles are territorial, she said — and took right off when released.

"It's great when you see birds like that when you know they are back on their home territory and they know it," she said. 

"This was one of those success stories that we're just happy that it had the kind of good happy ending."