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Squamish volunteers rescue golden eagle

A local OWL volunteer says the injured raptor has a long way to recovery; the District of Squamish provides tips on what to do if you find a wounded animal.

Local volunteers have rescued an injured golden eagle found in the Squamish Valley.

On March 5, Hazzard Roney, a raptor rescue volunteer with OWL (Orphaned Wildlife) Rehabilitation Society, told The Chief the OWL rehabilitation centre team believes the eagle has a long road to recovery.

Roney said the bird of prey, which was found March 4 by photographer Alexandre Gilbert, is suffering from lead poisoning and an injured foot.

That wasn't the only rescue that happened recently. Locals came to the aid of a juvenile great-horned owl that was found on March 5 in Brackendale, but that raptor wasn't so lucky.

In the morning, Carl Halvorson found the bird on the ground soaked from the rain and realized something wasn't right.

Halvorson, who has plenty of experience assisting injured birds and is a former OWL volunteer, told The chief this raptor was just sitting in his backyard on a rock under a bird feeder, looking miserable. He picked the owl up and it was very lethargic.

Roney was tasked with taking the bird to the rehab centre, but it passed away.

It is unclear why or how the owl was hurt, but  Roney said t's a tough time for the birds of prey.

"The springtime, we find, is a bit hard on the birds," he said.

Lead poisoning is a top reason why birds get injured, but, in this case, he suspects there might have been a different cause.

"This owl, I think, might have been a juvenile owl, and, so, it might've just been hunting, and something naturally didn't go right for it," Roney said. He added this is a great time to highlight the need for rescue volunteers.

Signing up is as simple as calling OWL, he said, and it's always good to have more people on the list, as everyone works different hours and not everyone can make it to a rescue, depending on the time of day.

Meg Toom, the District of Squamish's wildlife educator, said perhaps the most important step for those who come across an injured animal is giving authorities a call.

OWL is a great place to call for guidance on treating raptors. The BCSPCA is also a great resource, and for large, dangerous animals like bears and cougars, the Conservation Officer Service is the best bet.

Generally speaking, it's good to have a towel and gloves on hand when handling a raptor, Toom noted.

"The towel is to protect yourself but also to protect the animal. You don't want it coming at you obviously," she said.

"It's going to be panicked. It's going to be nervous. So it's also just swaddling it but also covering its eyes to kind of protect it so you reduce the stress level."

Who to call 

— The OWL (Orphaned Wildlife) Rehabilitation Society, located in Delta, requests that anyone who encounters an injured raptor call them immediately at: 604-946-3171 (24 hours a day) for guidance on next steps.

— The Burnaby Wildlife Rescue helpline number is 604-526-7275 (open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week). They rescue small mammals and birds. 

— The BCSPCA provincial call centre: 1-855-622-7722.

— For larger animals call the Conservation Officer Service 24/7 hotline for any reports of injured wildlife such as deer, cougars, bears, coyotes, bobcats: 1-877-952-7277.