A bald eagle rescued last week on Briggs Lake in Clear Lake was euthanized this week because of its extensive injuries.
Julie Ponder, director and veterinarian at The Raptor Center in St. Paul told the Citizen the injured bird suffered a severly broken humerus that was exposed and not surgically fixable.
“The bone was shattered and there was lots of soft tissue exposed,” said Ponder. “The bird suffered a violent impact with something that caused major damage.”
Ponder speculated the impact may have been from a vehicle.
The bird, which had made its home along the shores of Briggs Lake for many years, was spotted on the ground outside the home of Jim and Sue Chmielewski last Friday morning. Eventually, the Chmielewskis said, the eagle wandered to a spot under their deck and just sat there for hours.
“We knew it must have been hurt since it wasn’t really acting normally and didn’t fly off when we approached it,” said Jim.
Jim and Sue immediately made some calls around to find someone who would be willing to come out and rescue the bird and after several attempts, were finally able to contact the Raptor Center. The center dispatched Terry Headley, a transport and clinic volunteer with the Raptor Center, who made the long trek to the Chmielewski’s house from Fridley.
“We were concerned about the bird since the eagle flies around here all the time, fishes the lake and has been a mainstay in the area for many years,” said Jim.
Headley arrived within an hour and a half and made her way to the bird’s roost just outside the Chmielewski home. With a pair of thick, leather gloves, Headley approached the bird from behind and with little fanfare, plucked the bird off the ground. After a feeble tussle with the giant bird, Headley eventually had the eagle nestled in her arm and ready for transport to St. Paul.
The eagle didn’t have much fight in him (understandably) and Headly noticed immediately a wound to the bird’s stomach and chest area as a possible cause for its distress.
“Yeah, there’s blood there and it’ll have to be checked out thoroughly at the raptor center,” said Headley.
When asked how the injury may have occurred, Headley said those kinds of injuries are was most likely caused by another eagle.
The eagle didn’t appear to be fully grown and Headley estimated the bird’s age to be about five years old. Even with the injury, Headley said, eagles can be very dangerous with its sharp talons and mighty beak. Headley had the know-how and experience to seize the giant eagle without causing injury to herself or the bird.
Headley has worked for the raptor center for over 16 years.
The UofM Raptor Center was established in 1974 and the center rehabilitates more than 700 sick and injured raptors each year. The Raptor Center also trains veterinary students and veterinarians from around the world to become future leaders in raptor medicine and conservation.
If you see a sick or injured bird of prey, call the Raptor Center at 612-624-4745.
The Chmielewskis have lived on Briggs Lake since they built their home there in 2004.