Rescue of juvenile bald eagle from B.C. settling pond caught on camera
VANCOUVER -- The rescue of a bald eagle stuck in a settling pond required some quick thinking from those who came to help.
The juvenile eagle got stuck in the Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant settling pond in Richmond, B.C., after its feathers became waterlogged with sludge.
Stuck on a patch of vegetation, the male raptor would have started to sink if he stepped off, and he'd have to attempt to swim back to the patch, the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society said in a post on Facebook Tuesday.
OWL said the bird was unable to fly because the sludge made him too heavy. It also left him unable to "properly thermogate his body temperature," the post said.
"If we left him there, he would perish."
Called in by a Good Samaritan who saw the bird and recognized he needed help, OWL staff began to assess how to reach him.
"We quickly realized our usual rescue tactics were not going to work," the society wrote.
"Our nets wouldn't reach the bird, a boat would not work due to safety issues, and a helicopter was not able to be used as it was in restricted airspace."
The pond was about 170 metres wide and the eagle was 40 metres from the closest point on shore.
OWL staff came up with a plan involving nearly 200 metres of rope and a unique item: a volleyball net. The rescue was caught on camera and part of a 20-minute video posted to OWL's YouTube page.
Initially, staff from the plant used a front-loader to hold one end of the rope up high, and the net was dragged toward the eagle. But they soon realized they needed more equipment.
So, OWL says, they called the local fire department, which "graciously offered to help."
Plant workers, firefighters, OWL staff and volunteers teamed up to put the rescue plan in action.
"As you can see in the video, it took a few attempts for it to successfully bring the bird to land but it worked!" OWL posted.
Fortunately, the bird had no serious injuries.
OWL said he was cleaned and fed salmon, then kept in the facility's intensive care unit for several days.
Then, when his strength was back, the eagle was released. The video shows a member of OWL setting down a dog carrier in a field, and opening the door.
The eagle takes a couple steps then spreads its wings and flies off.