Injured bald eagle is improving

Injured bald eagle is improving »Play Video
Wildlife Veterinarian John Huckabee treats an eagle during surgery Tuesday, October 30, 2007 at PAWS in Lynnwood, Wash.

LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- Veterinarians say an injured bald eagle being treated here is improving, and could be released back into the wild in several weeks if his recovery continues.

The eagle was found last week in a field near Lake Tapps in Pierce County. Beverly Stern stayed with the injured eagle until a state wildlife agent arrived to pick it up.

The animal is now in the care of the Progressive Animal Welfare Society and underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair skin damage on its head and wing.

"He was in very poor condition when he came in," said PAWS Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. John Huckabee. "Very, very weak."

The eagle had bruising around its face and jaw, and its right wing was damaged.

"The injuries are consistent possibly with having been hit by a car," Huckabee said.

When the eagle arrived at PAWS, Huckabee said, it would not move or respond normally and had very little energy.

"It was only if something was uncomfortable or a little bit painful that we'd get much response from the bird at all, and that's not typical of a bald eagle," he said. "If the eagle hadn't been brought in very likely it would have died."

Veterinarians started an intravenous line to provide the eagle with nutrients and water and have been treating the animal's injuries for the last week.

Huckabee said the eagle, which is at least four years old, has perked up and is steadily regaining its strength, even staring to defend itself.

"I'm very encouraged with the progress we've seen over the last week," he said. "His chances are reasonably good for a full recovery and release back to the wild."

The eagle has been able to fly a bit, but still needs to gain more strength and fly for longer periods. Huckabee said it will be at least three or four weeks before the eagle can be released.

"It needs to have good stamina so it can get around and find its prey," he said, adding that if it's released they will take the eagle back to the area in Pierce County where it was found.

"It needs to go back to its home territory where it knows the layout of the land," he said.

The eagle is seen being sedated ahead of surgery on Tuesday.