Off-duty officer helps rescue eagle

Sechelt

One more eagle will be soaring in the skies over the Sunshine Coast again, thanks to the work of a caring group of individuals last week.

Const. Mark Wiebe, an off-duty officer with Sunshine Coast RCMP, was walking his dog along the ocean side boardwalk in Sechelt’s Snickett Park on Tuesday, Feb. 17, when the dog led Wiebe down to some rocks near the water.

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When the pair got down to the water, Wiebe saw that there was a fully-grown bald eagle that appeared to be trapped inside a crevice. Wiebe worried that the rising tide would prevent the eagle from escaping, so he called the Conservation Officer Service for help.

Conservation officer Dean Miller rushed down to the beach when he heard the call. Miller and Wiebe were able to determine that the eagle wasn’t physically trapped in the rocks as first thought, but was nonetheless in danger of not being able to escape when the tide came up.

“It’s unclear why the eagle entered the crevice in the first place, and it is very unusual that it would be in such a place, but it could be that it was hiding from another eagle,” said Miller.

Miller and Wiebe worked together to get a hold of the eagle, which Miller noted was “belligerent” to say the least. Braving the eagle’s repeated pecks and claws, Miller was able to remove the eagle from the crevice using a blanket. The eagle took hold of Miller’s wrist in one of its talons, and although Miller has worked with eagles before, he was surprised at how incredibly strong its grip was.

Const. Glen Martin with the RCMP’s First Nations Policing unit also came to help, and held the eagle in his arms while they drove to the Conservation office.

Things got even more interesting once they were inside the office. When Martin and Miller were trying to put the eagle into a cage, it opened its wings, dug in its talons, and the officers had to let it go. The eagle flew around inside the office while the pair worked to avoid its claws and capture it once again.

“Judging by how well it flew around the office, we were pretty confident the eagle was very capable of caring for itself,” added Miller.

Clint Davy from the Gibsons Wildlife Rehab Centre attended to further assess the bird. Davy agreed that the eagle was not injured. He took it to Snickett Park a few hours later and released it back into the wild.

Although Miller has helped eagles before, “the circumstances of this event makes it fit into the incredibly odd category” he said.

Miller encourages anyone who comes across wildlife in distress to call the Conservation Officer Service, regardless of how large or small the animal is. The Gibsons Wildlife Rehab Centre can also be contacted for advice relating to wildlife in need of help.

“After six years of working with the RCMP, I thought I had seen just about everything,” said Wiebe. “This was a first for me. I’m just thankful it had a happy ending.”

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