CLUXEWE RESORT—For RCMP Constable Amron Russell, stationed on the North Island for just a few months, the rescue and release of an injured juvenile eagle was a first.
But the eagle turned out of a kennel this month before an appreciative audience of surprised onlookers was at least the third undomesticated bird sent back into the wild in the area this summer following recovery and rehabilitation.
“This was the first I had heard of an eagle being recovered,” said Cst. Russell, who previously worked as a dispatcher as a civilian member of the force in Nanaimo before holding a similar post in the Comox Valley. “So I had no idea what to do. It was just research and making some phone calls and connecting the dots a bit.”
Russell was involved in the eagle’s recovery by Monica Daly of Port McNeill, whose son, Blayne, had plucked the young bird from the surf while on an outing with his girlfriend to Storey’s Beach Aug. 23.
“We saw it getting picked on by a bunch of crows,” Blayne said. “It was kind of soaked; looked kind of injured. So we wrapped it up in a coat and tried to hide it from the tourists who were all over the place.”
Unsure what to do with the bird, Blayne called his mother, who coincidentally was at Cluxewe Resort with a Sunday School picnic.
“He just phoned me up and said, ‘Mom, mom! I got an eagle! What should I do with it?'” Monica said. “I go, ‘I guess you bring it home.'”
But Monica wanted to make sure what they were doing was legal, so she called the Port McNeill RCMP detachment. While the Dalys kept the bird at home in a cage, Russell did some research and tracked down the Owl Recovery Centre in Vancouver, which specializes in the treatment of birds of prey, including eagles. The centre has a shipping agreement with Pacific Coastal Airlines, and a flight was arranged to transport the bird the following morning from Port McNeill to Port Hardy Airport for the trip.
“I was able to have it in my house for the evening, which totally thrilled me,” said Monica. “Then (I) cried all the way to Port Hardy.”
Seven weeks later Daly got a call from Russell asking if she was interested in helping release the eagle, which was scheduled for a return flight.
The bird was very nearly sent on to Bella Bella accidentally, but Russell arrived just in time to snare it from the plane. Because Storey’s Beach is outside her jurisdiction, she drove the bird, followed by the Dalys, to Cluxewe Resort, where a number of curious campers and onlookers gathered to watch it be released from a dog kennel placed atop a large stump.
“It’s a very nice, full-circle tale of events, and I’m pretty happy to be a part of it,” said Russell. “It was the Island working together with all these various agencies to help the animal get back into the wild.”
Early in July, an eagle injured when it flew into a clothesline in Alert Bay was released at the soccer field adjacent to the ‘Namgis Big House after being treated at the Mountain Avian Rescue Society in Comox.
Later that month, a juvenile heron, picked up in Storey’s Beach after apparently being injured falling from a nest, was successfully released back at the beach after also being treated at MARS.