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Eagle takes flight

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services

Nahanni Butte (Nov 10/06) - A Golden eagle recently received a bit of help to continue on its way.

Residents of Nahanni Butte and Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) officials in Fort Simpson worked together to care for the eagle.

NNSL Photo/graphic

The eagle was brought to the Nahanni Butte Animal Shelter where volunteers Bhreagh Ingarfield, Kayla Betsaka and Kyra Tanche worked to make it comfortable.

The Golden eagle had been spotted by a community member in Nahanni Butte at the landfill site.

When it took off to fly, the eagle hit a fence and appeared to be hurt, said Wayne Ingarfield.

The eagle was brought to the Nahanni Butte Animal Shelter where volunteers Bhreagh Ingarfield, Kayla Betsaka and Kyra Tanche worked to make it comfortable.

The eagle was kept in a dog kennel shielded with a towel and fed raw meat. The girls originally planned to have the eagle transported to a raptor rescue centre in Alberta, said Ingarfield, when ENR officials from Fort Simpson stepped in to assist.

Danny Allaire, a wildlife technician, flew to Nahanni Butte on Oct. 30 and transported the eagle back to Fort Simpson so the bird could be assessed for injuries.

"It didn't appear to be damaged," said Allaire.

From its cage the eagle would watch staff as they moved around.

"It was quite alert," said Nic Larter, the regional biologist.

The eagle had a wingspan between two and three feet and was approximately 18-inches tall. It was probably young, said Larter.

The eagle was fed some fresh grouse and kept overnight. The next morning, it got a second meal before being released outside of Fort Simpson.

Staff monitored the eagle. For the first few days it didn't do much, maybe because of the change of scenery, said Larter. On Nov. 2, staff scoured the area but couldn't find the eagle.

"We're of course hoping for the best," he said.

Golden eagles can be found in the Northwest Territories and the western part of Nunavut, said Doug Tate, the conservation biologist for the Nahanni National Park Reserve.

The eagle found in Nahanni Butte may have stayed north too long.

Golden eagles tend to head south in September and October, said Tate. Their winter range starts in southern B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan and extends all the way into Mexico.

Golden eagles eat hares, squirrels and small lambs of Dalls sheep. When fully grown, golden eagles are 76 to 102 cm long and can have a wingspan of up to 203 to 224 cm or seven feet.

The Golden eagle isn't the only bird who recently missed the call to go south.

A rough-legged hawk was found in mid-October in Trout Lake. ENR received a call from the Sambaa K'e band about the hawk that didn't look well, said Larter.

The hawk was brought to Fort Simpson on Oct. 16. It was kept warm and fed some meat before being released.

After being sighted around town the hawk hasn't been seen since Oct. 21, said Larter.

Every year some birds are late moving south, said Larter. The birds are often young and in most cases only need a bit of help to go on their way.

Larter would like to remind residents that if they are concerned about a distressed animal, their first step should be to contact their local or regional ENR office.