She thrashed, then soared.
This large, bossy, mature female eagle was ready for her freedom on Friday.
Setting the big bird free was a joyous moment that never gets old for Brenda Boates, operations manager of Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Hilden, N.S.
“Oh, it’s jubilation. It’s just amazing,’’ Boats said moments after letting the eagle back into the wild after the impressive beast had spent 10 months in captivity.
“This is why we do what we do…the joy of seeing them go back to the sky,’’ she adds, smiling broadly.
“A lot of us have lost people, and it’s kind of very symbolic. We lost our co-founder last October to ovarian cancer, and every time I release one, I hear her and I just hear the ‘Woo hoo’. ’’
Fiep de Bie, a technician with the Atlantic Veterinary College Wildlife Service, says the process of mending the eagle and readying it to fend for itself was long, labourious and well worth the effort.
“It was a success because that is always the ultimate goal to release animals back into the wild – and you cannot compromise on that,’’ she said.
“They have to be one hundred per cent. Birds like this have to be well enough to survive in the wild.’’
The eagle was found at MacLure’s Pond in Murray River on July 12, 2018, with fishing line wrapped around her right foot and left wing.
She was rescued from the water by Fish and Wildlife staff and brought to the AVC’s Wildlife Service where an examination revealed a swollen left elbow and a full tissue tear in the web of her right wing.
The wound was sutured by wildlife health specialist Dr. Dave McRuer.
Wound care was provided for several weeks, and the wing was bandaged. On the first day without a bandage, the wound opened along the suture line and needed to be repaired again.
This meant another round of bandage changes and physiotherapy every three days to keep the eagle’s wing mobile.
Dr. Art Ortenburger provided cold-laser therapy sessions to promote wound healing.
Finally, after weeks of bandage changes and wound care, the eagle was placed in an outdoor enclosure to slowly exercise her wing.
In October, she was taken to the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
Scott Brehaut of Murray Harbour, the man who spotted the eagle in distress last summer and summoned help, joined in the release at the aptly-named former Eagle’s View Golf Course Friday that saw spirits soaring high.
He sees plenty of eagles plenty of times in this area and never tires of watching them fly.
“Oh, I love them,’’ he said.
“It’s good to see wildlife around.’’
De Bie was in a celebratory mood as she and Boates carried the eagle, believed to be at least six years old and weighing roughly five kilograms, in a blanket-covered crate into a field and set it free.
“It’s emotional,’’ she said.
“It also tells me that it is so wonderful that people collaborate on all of this and not give up. It’s a real team effort.’’