A hunting guide in the Flathead who came across an injured golden eagle, rode the raptor out on horseback in an attempt to save its life.
On the evening of September 23, Conservation Officer Trish Burley received a phone call from a remote area within the Flathead region. Dave Beranck, an outfitter, had come across an injured golden eagle while out with hunters. He wrapped the animal in cloth and packed him out on horseback, bringing the eagle to a nearby trapper with access to a satellite phone to determine what to do next.
Burley gave the outfitter and trapper permission to bring the animal to Fernie, where it could be safely transported to a raptor rehab centre in Vancouver. The trapper, Al Komarevich, then drove to Fernie to put the eagle in Burley’s care.
“Golden eagles are a unique raptor around the East Kootenays, it’s not often that members of the public are able to hold a raptor like that,” commented Burley. “We don’t encourage it, it’s actually an offence to hold live or dead wildlife without a permit. They went through the steps of trying to rescue an injured animal, and followed up with me to get proper permission.”
“Because of their knowledge of wildlife, they were able to look at that bird and realise something wasn’t right,” Burley explained. “They had the tools and knowledge to handle it safely. They were trying to do the right thing, and they did, by reporting it.”
The injured golden eagle was put on a flight with Burley from Cranbrook to Vancouver that same day. Upon arrival at the rehab centre it was determined that he had both a broken fibula and tibia, as well as being severely underweight for a male raptor.
Burley said the vets had hoped to do surgery, but unfortunately the animal passed away two days after arriving in Vancouver.
While the outcome wasn’t what the outfitter and trapper had hoped for, Burley said they did everything they could. “It’s unusual that an outfitter, a trapper and a Conservation Officer were able to try to rescue this eagle safely.”
Burley went on to say, “Golden eagles, or bald eagles, are extremely dangerous, which is why we don’t recommend people try to capture them.”
“I have dealt with them before, they’re a rare and beautiful species, and we just want to help out animals as much as we can.”
Anyone who encounters a hurt or injured animal in the wild is asked to call the toll-free RAPP line at 1-800-952-7277.