When employees of a local company heard a thud while driving down a busy Medford road they would have never guessed they’d find a huge female golden eagle wedged in the engine compartment of their box truck. Even more surprising is that this patient presented with only superficial injuries when she arrived in our clinic!
Golden eagle patients arrive a couple of times a year but we can’t remember one coming in under these particular circumstances. Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division Trooper Ryan Gosse arrived on Thursday, January 30 with the bird. According to his report drivers from Mountain View Window & Door were traveling down Crater Lake Avenue near Vilas when they heard a thud coming from the box truck behind their cab. Having seen the eagle just before hearing the thud, they immediately looked in the engine compartment when they reached their destination. The drivers were shocked to see the full grown golden eagle wedged in such a precarious position. Wide eyed and bleeding from the mouth, the bird was scared but wedged so tightly into the small space that she couldn’t get out, and removing her without help would be potentially dangerous to her and the men. They called Trooper Gosse to help remove her safely. Trooper Gosse fanangled the eagle out by carefully folding and holding both wings while another person guided the engine hoses and lines out of the eagles talons. Golden eagles are incredibly strong. While their beaks are sharp and can do serious damage, it’s their talons to truly fear. A golden eagle can exert an hundreds of pounds of pressure per square inch (up to 800 psi in some studies). To put it in perspective, the average man tops out at roughly 121 psi. The strength of a golden eagle’s grip is strong enough to easily crush a human forearm, let alone, slice through it with razor sharp talons.
Because of the birds size three animal care team members helped get her out of the crate and worked with her on her examination. Animal Care manager and clinic lead Jen Osburn-Eliot noted in the intake exam that the patient had no apparent wing injuries, was at a healthy weight, and showed no obvious signs of wing damage or head trauma. The only visible injury was a small tear where the skin attaches to the beak. That was assessed and cleaned by one of Wildlife Images’ volunteer veterinarians. An x-ray was also performed to rule out any fractures from the impact. When the exam was finished the eagle was placed in a large ICU unit for overnight observation.
Wildlife Images is incredibly grateful to the vigilant employees of Mountain View Window & Door for putting their day on hold to get this beautiful girl some help. We are also incredibly and continually grateful to Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division for their dedication to wildlife and for helping teach people how to safely and peacefully coexist with wild animals.