Injured eagle highlights need for better funding
Posted March 31, 2015
Rocky Point, N.C. — Wildlife organizations are petitioning lawmakers to revise the rules when it comes to rescuing eagles, saying the current regulations make it difficult to find a home for an injured bird.
An injured eagle named Harris was spotted by a fisherman at the Shearon Harris Reservoir earlier this week.
"They saw it on the bank, an eagle walking around, and when they saw it they realized its right wing was king of hanging limp," said Steve Stone with the American Wildlife Refuge. "The injury itself is something where it gets worse if it isn't tended to."
Stone had 24 hours to find Harris a home when the Cape Fear Raptor Center stepped up to help.
Dr. Joni Gnyp, executive director of the center, said the bird has serious injuries.
"He's actually got two openings - one kind of on the inside of his wing and one on the outside," Gnyp said.
The staff took extra precautions to make sure the eagle felt safe, including outfitting him with a small hood to block his vision, which helps him cope with his new environment.
"He is kind of calmed by being in the dark," Gnyp said. "It's a very calming tactic with birds of prey."
While Harris is in safe hands, Stone said the outcome is rare because of the laws to protect eagles.
"You have to have a fully funded facility, so that there is an income no matter what," Stone said. "You also have to be open during the week, so people can come see the eagle. That's the idea of being able to keep the bird, so you can educate the public. And you have to have one full-time employee."
According to Stone, the laws were made when there were 300 eagles in the country. There are now more than 300 in North Carolina.
"The bottom line is we need more places that can handle eagles one way or another," he said. "Whether it's changing laws, which is probably not going to happen, or finding and financing a place that can do it."
Harris is scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday afternoon.