Snoqualmie Ridge Wildlife Lovers Rally to Help an Animal in Trouble

When a group of Snoqualmie Ridge residents started the weekend of May 20th, they had no idea they would be involved in the rescue of an injured Bald Eagle.

In a heartwarming display of community effort and compassion for wildlife, a group of residents successfully captured a injured bald eagle found in the woods behind a house near Woody Creek Park. The remarkable rescue mission occurred over the weekend, highlighting the importance of community involvement and expertise when dealing with wildlife emergencies.

Photo Credit: Susan Burk

The story began when Abbey Cantrell received a text around 5 pm Saturday from her neighbor Sallie about an eagle who appeared to be sick or injured in the Woody Creek Neighborhood area.

Concerned for the bird’s well-being, Abbey contacted several organizations, including the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the Snoqualmie Police Department, but faced various limitations due to the weekend schedule and transportation challenges.

Abbey and her husband, Jon, went to the area to see how they could help. At this point, the eagle hopped into the woods along the greenbelt and climbed a downed tree. It looked like the eagle was either sick or injured, as it would not fly.

Cantrell contacted PAWS again, and they first suggested it be left alone to see if it would move after a couple of hours because eagles will sometimes not fly after a large meal. After sending pictures to PAWS, it was determined, based on the eagle’s eyes & feathers, that it likely had some sickness or injury.

The couple was offered tips on how to catch the eagle so the pair could bring it into them. Says Cantrell, “None of us felt comfortable trying to capture the eagle at that point because it was still actively moving away if we got too close. We all decided to watch it overnight and see what it looks like in the morning.

Sallie’s husband, Tommy, checked on the eagle around 9:45 pm and said it hadn’t moved and now had its head tucked down. Abbey went out Sunday morning around 5:45 am, and the eagle was in the same position with its head tucked down.

Says Cantrell, “It was at this point that Susan’s name popped into my head as somebody who might know someone willing to help capture the eagle. I know she has a huge heart for animals and a passion for the local wildlife.”

Susan Burk is a resident known for her love of animals and dedication to wildlife conservation. She says, “When I woke up that morning, I saw the text from Abbey asking if I knew anyone that could help with a sick or injured eagle near her home.”

Wasting no time, Susan immediately offered her assistance. Recognizing the situation’s urgency, she told her wife Cathy where she was off to, who got her towels, crates, and gloves.

Photo Credit: Abbey Cantrell

Upon arrival at the scene, Burk faced the daunting task of capturing the eagle, which required expertise and caution.

Says Susan, “I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage on my own since the first thing you must do is grab the legs just above the talons and not let go. An eagle’s talons are incredibly sharp and strong. Doing that would leave me with no hands to cover the bird’s head, which also needs to be done because their other big weapon is their beak.”

Sallie’s husband, Tommy, agreed to help Susan while their children and the Cantrell kids strategically blocked nearby trails to keep the eagle as calm as possible. The eagle, weakened by its condition, eventually fell to the ground during its attempted flight, allowing the rescuers to approach safely.

Photo Credit: Abby Cantrell

The initial attempts to capture the eagle with canvas drop cloths proved challenging, but Susan and Tommy remained determined. After regrouping and adjusting their strategy, Tommy’s precise throw allowed Susan to secure the eagle’s legs and cover its head with a handkerchief, ensuring the safety of both the rescuers and the bird.

Tommy carried the bird out of the greenbelt, and it was then carefully placed in a crate and prepared for transportation to the PAWS facility in Lynnwood.

Since Susan had called PAWS on the way there to let them know they’d been successful at catching the eagle, they were ready when she got there. Veterinarians did a quick exam and placed the eagle in a dark room.

If it survived and could be rehabilitated, it would be brought back to our area, and she’d be able to be there when it’s released. Says Burk, “Even if it didn’t make it, it was worth the effort to give it a chance.”

Photo Credit: Susan Burk

Unfortunately, a subsequent examination revealed that the eagle was blind, with severe eye injuries that would have rendered it unable to survive in the wild. PAWS made the difficult decision to euthanize the eagle to prevent further suffering.

Nicki Rosenhagen, DVM Wildlife Veterinarian, said, “I did see this (female) eagle at the time of admit for an ophthalmic consultation. The right eye was indeed nonviable – my best guess is that there was a previous puncture to the globe as we saw evidence of the iris adhering to both the lens and the cornea (anterior and posterior synechia); she also had a cataract in the lens, again likely from trauma. If I had to guess, conspecific aggression from a territorial dispute would be what I’d go with. Generally, if something significant happened from a human (hit by a vehicle or shot), we see much broader injuries. The bird was also quite thin, attesting to the fact that she was not coping well with her visual deficit.”

Despite the unfortunate outcome, Susan expressed gratitude for giving the eagle a chance and ensuring it received proper evaluation and care. The collaborative efforts of the community members involved, including Abbey, Jon, Sallie, Tommy, and their children, played a crucial role in the rescue mission. Their dedication and quick thinking led to the successful capture of the eagle and its prompt transfer to PAWS.

Burk’s admirable actions in rescuing the injured bald eagle have not gone unnoticed. As a result of her bravery and success in the mission, Susan has been added to the call-out list for volunteer raptor rescuers, recognizing her capabilities and dedication to wildlife conservation.

The story of the injured bald eagle in Snoqualmie Ridge serves as a reminder of the importance of community involvement and the need to seek professional guidance when encountering wildlife in distress. This team of local heroes has set an inspiring example for others, demonstrating the impact individuals can make when they come together for the well-being of our precious wildlife.

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