Injured eagle taken into custody by sheriff’s office

An injured eagle received a police escort to the hospital last week.

An injured eagle received a police escort to the hospital last week.

Tuesday afternoon, Lt. Darren Crownover with the Island County Sheriff’s Office received a call for a hurt eagle on Humphrey Road on South Whidbey. Right before he arrived to the property, he received another call for a dead eagle just two driveways down from the original.

At first, he thought it could have been the same eagle, he said, but when he arrived to the first property, he found the eagle sitting on a stone wall next to the home. Calls for eagle injuries increase this time of year, he said, as the birds fight each other competing for a mate.

The eagle then flew off the wall, and it was clear something was wrong with its wing. It landed in the yard, then hopped over to the neighboring lawn, where Crownover could eventually put a towel over it and usher it into his car.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” he said, “so I’ve dealt with injured owls, injured hawks. My brother’s a falconer, so I’m familiar with how to handle birds of prey.”

Eagle talons are strong enough to break fingers, he said, and once they close, they are difficult to pry open. The towel helped create a layer between the bird, and then he grabbed it with gloves on, keeping it arm’s-length from him. Once it was covered in the towel, it never tried to bite or scrape him, he said.

The eagle was ruffled, looked like it had been in a bar fight. Crownover buckled it in the back of the car and brought it to Useless Bay Animal Clinic to treat its wing, joking that it may need a hangover cure as well. There, the eagle was kept overnight, and in the morning, it was relocated to Fidalgo Animal Medical Center, which has a rehab facility. Useless Bay staff said people bring in eagles a few times a year.

When an examiner at Fidalgo Animal Medical Center suggested it be relocated to Wolf Hollow Rehabilitation Center on San Juan Island, the examiner there recommended it be released without treatment.

While the original resident who found the eagle and called the sheriff’s office could not be reached, Fidalgo Animal Medical Center staff said he was frustrated and going to call someone else who could tend to the eagle.

Call animal control before picking up an injured eagle, Crownover suggested, as it may attack and injure itself or a human.