Final exam revealed hidden injury.
Just before transfering an animal for release our team does one last exam. During this time we check animals over for any issues that may have developed, gone unseen, or not met our high standards for release. During this exam a injury was found on the eagle’s feet. It was immediately clear the injury needed treatment.
Why wasn’t this found before?
During the initial exam no signs were noted on the birds talons and feet except dirty with oil, likely from its time in the engine compartment of the truck it hit. The pads were cleaned and the bird was moved quickly to an outdoor enclosure that safely allowed the bird to perch on appropriate surfaces. A day later the bird was flight tested. The patient did wonderfully. At this time, Animal Care team members were up close to the bird for almost an hour and again didn’t see any signs that would indicate an injury of this magnitude. Over the weekend, the eagle was fed but, as to industry standards, there was no human involvement, so as to limit exposure and imprinting. This morning the eagle’s injury was cleaned and a soothing ointment applied. The bird also received an antibiotic. Volunteer veterinarians will be weighing in on the injury so our team can get a solid diagnosis and treatment plan. However, this injury appears similar to a patient we saw last year who suffered electrocution burns.
What happens next?
We feel terrible about getting our members’ hopes up with this incredible release. However, the thing we focus on is only releasing an animal when it is ready and has the absolute best odds of survival. That is not the case today. We hope you understand our reasoning for this delay.