A juvenile eagle is released after being cared for at Wild ARC.

Helping hand allows eagle to fly free

Mud-encrusted juvenile eagle would have perished without aid of human

His daughters think he’s a hero, but Andy England said he was just doing the right thing.

A juvenile bald eagle was released in Sooke on June 13 around 2 p.m. after receiving rehabilitative care at the BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC).

Sooke resident Andy England, found the distressed eagle submerged in mud on the morning of June 4.

England was performing regular duties at work, around the Butler Brothers property near 6228 Sooke Road, when he spotted the young, male eagle stuck up to its neck in mud, with its wings outstretched over the surface.

He quickly decided to free the eagle, and placed a towel over its head so he could loosen the clay-like mud around its body. England then tucked its wings inward and wrapped the bird in his jacket.

“He kind of just looked at me kind of dejected-like, like ‘Look at what I’ve done to myself,’ England said, adding the bird-of-prey was too exhausted to fight back.

It is suspected the eagle was after a deer carcass that was also submerged in the mud, which England removed to ensure other animals would not end up in the same predicament.

England took the bird to Wild ARC, where the eagle was cleaned up, warmed up, fed and cared for by rehabilitation workers for just over a week until its release.

“There was probably about five pounds of mud,” said Christina Carrieres, senior wildlife rehabilitator. “There was a thick layer covering basically almost his entire body.”

The eagle did not suffer from any other injuries other then exposure to the elements and exhaustion.

Carrieres said the eagle was placed in a large flight pen, and when it appeared to fly well, the decision was made to release it in the same place it was found.

She stated that had England not intervened, the eagle would have died.

“That eagle would’ve definitely died, he wouldn’t have survived.”

When asked why he took the time to save the eagle, England simply stated, “It was the right thing to do. It was kind of defenceless, and if I didn’t get him out of there he probably would’ve been eaten by the turkey vultures and the ravens that hang around here.”

The eagle, estimated to be about two years old with a wing span of under two metres, took a strong and quick flight when set free.

Carrieres commended England for his good deed, but his greatest admirers were clearly his two daughters Coral, 7, and Tamara, 10, who hugged their father after witnessing the bird’s release, proudly proclaiming, “Dad, you’re a hero.”

Wild ARC is mainly funded by donations, and receives no funding from the government. Monetary donations can be made at: www.spca.bc.ca/branches/wild-arc/

The wildlife refuge is also currently in need of edible berries.