‘It was a picture perfect release’; Bald eagle gets a second chance at life

CHENEY, Wash. — A bald eagle took flight once again after a near-death experience, and helping hands that stepped in to help.

Hikers were on a trail near Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge when they spotted an eagle in distress.

“The bird was unconscious, barely alive, eyes closed, barely breathing and collapsed on the floor of the forest,” recalled Janie Veltkamp, the Director at Birds of Prey Northwest.

The hiker called Birds of Prey, and they were able to coach him through delivering the eagle to their rehabilitation center, which is where he’s been for the past two months. They later discovered the eagle had eaten a euthanized animal, and the poison had almost killed him. To recover, Veltkamp had to pump his stomach and give the eagle lots of fluids and vitamin shots. Amazingly, the eagle made a full recovery.

“The bird got successful treatment. He recovered beautifully. He’s strong today,” Veltkamp said. “This is a very lucky eagle.”

The eagle was released on Williams Lake, and nearby neighbors couldn’t miss seeing him take his first flight.

“We’ll definitely be watching for him,” said Brenda Devine, who lives nearby. “We see these pairs that we kind of know and love.”

Bald eagles used to be on the endangered species list, but they were removed in 2007. Veltkamp says they are repopulating in Washington.

“They seem to be adapting,” she said. “Their numbers are increasing across the country, and they’re a modern day conservation success story.”

The eagle had a crowd of adoring fans ready to watch him take flight, and it was a welcome back to the wild that couldn’t have gone better.

“It was a picture perfect release,” Veltkamp said. “We were paid today. Some forms of currency come in other forms, like releasing a bald eagle back to the wild.”

Devine is just happy to see people step up to help give this animal a second chance at life.

“It’s just so exciting to see how we can help animals and how we can take care of them because that’s really what we need to be doing,” Devine said.

Birds of Prey is currently rehabilitating another bald eagle which will be released in a few weeks.