PHOTOS: Nebraska Wildlife Officers Rescue Bald Eagle Ahead of Blizzard

by Jon D. B.

The juvenile bald eagle is expected to live after his last-minute rescue by Nebraska’s Raptor Conservation Alliance Center ahead of dangerous weather.

Among many reasons, bald eagles are precious for their role in American mythos and North American ecosystems. And when a juvenile male of the species was found in distress mere hours before a blizzard hit Nebraska, a local utility crew didn’t hesitate to contact the proper authorities.

The 2-year-old bald eagle suffers from a “battered leg and wing,” says director of Nebraska’s Raptor Conservation Alliance Center, Betsy Finch. Her team tells Omaha’s KETV 7 the juvenile is underweight but still alive and willing to fight for his life.

“We’ll get an X-ray, to find out what’s going on. The wing is broken,” Finch says during KETV 7‘s harrowing coverage. The young raptor came into her care Thursday evening. Hours later, a fierce blizzard would pelt the area.

“Oh, he probably wouldn’t have made it much longer,” Finch continues of the fateful rescue.

Nebraska Utility Workers Moved Fast to Rescue Distressed Bald Eagle

The juvenile bald eagle has fellow Nebraskans to thank for his life, too. According to KETV 7‘s report, it was local Norris Public Power District workers who first saw the injured bird of prey. Their busy work of clearing tree limbs around power lines before the storm led them straight to the distressed youngster in Friend, Nebraska.

Once the juvenile was spotted under a creek bridge, the utility workers didn’t hesitate to call Nebraska Game and Parks.

“It tried to flap its wings and it fell into the water,” Conservation Officer Bryce Streger tells the Omaha news station. Fellow conservation officers Dina Barta and Trevor Stahlecker responded to the workers’ call.

“The front was coming through. So we knew we had to move fast,” Streger adds. Together with his team, Streger waded into the churning waters to retrieve the bald eagle. Once secure, they swaddled him carefully in a blanket – covering his head to keep him calm before placing the juvenile into a crate.

“We had a bunch of twigs and stuff in the water that our legs were kind of wrapped up in so our mobility was pretty limited,” Streger recalls.

The Norris Power crew didn’t leave the scene until the rescue was complete, either. The workers helped hoist the raptor out of the embankment, contributing to a daring – and successful – bald eagle rescue.

Without them,… We would have never known about his injured eagle,” Streger praises. And while Streger has rescued many wild animals within his career, he admits that saving a bald eagle is “special.”

“Obviously an American eagle is symbolic. It definitely has a special meaning,” he concludes.

Eagle’s Ordeal Isn’t Over Yet

Unfortunately, this juvenile bald eagle isn’t in the clear just yet. Once in veterinary care, Nebraska’s Raptor Conservation Alliance Center’s Betsy Finch brought back discouraging test results. The young raptor also has lead poisoning.

“He’s at 35 and anything over 64 we can’t save them,” Finch adds of the juvenile’s struggle. Thankfully, these levels are “moderate” to wildlife officials, and Finch expects a successful recovery.

To do so, Finch will relocate the young eagle to the Wildlife Safari Park near Ashland, Nebraska to recoup with avian veterinarians.

As seen in KETV 7’s photo and footage, the 2-year-old bald eagle still lacks his species’ signature “bald” white plumage on his head. Bald eagles have long lifespans and can live anywhere from 20 to 30 years. As such, they take longer to mature than most birds, and their striking white cranial plumage doesn’t fill in until they mature at 4 to 5 years of age.

The rescue comes in as an Elk is Rescued from a Swimming Pool by Colorado Wildlife Officers and Firefighters.

[Source: KETV 7]