There are many beautiful creatures on planet Earth. One which always draws attention is the eagle. The eagle is graceful, majestic and incredible to watch. The Hope Ranch has become a sanctuary for one lucky bald eagle who found itself in distress back in late winter.
“We saw this eagle walking across the snow,” said June Hope. “It seemed like it couldn’t fly. It walked over near the barn and just stayed there on the ground.”
June and her husband Brad moved in closer to investigate and could see the eagle was in some sort of distress. “It seemed like it was incapable or expending any more energy,” said Brad. Brad is the Regional Director for Area H and got busy on the phone looking for some advice. After speaking with local bird expert Madelone Schouten and enlisting the help of friend and local mayor Randy McLean, the group soon had the eagle ready for transport to the South Okanagan Rehab Centre for Owls. Rehabilitation expert, Ken Fujino, took the eagle and after a thorough examination determined that it was starving to death. June Hope had already began feeding the eagle scrapes of meat and was pleased to see it gobble the food down, but the eagle was far from healthy. Fujino was unable to determine why the eagle had become so emancipated, but knew it was in serious trouble and in need of urgent care. “It is hard to say what led up to the eagle’s state at that time,” stated Fujino. “It might have ate something that poisoned it and made it very ill or it might have injured its chest somehow and been unable to fly. Whatever the reason, its inability to fly made it very vulnerable and unable to hunt.”
The eagle was so emancipated that it was absorbing its own muscle to stay alive. Its once strong muscular chest was concave. “This eagle was almost finished,” said Fujino. “If Hopes had not found it when they did, it would not have survived.”
After two and a half months at the Rehab Centre, an excited group gathered out at the Hope Ranch last Sunday afternoon to celebrate Hope’s release.
The name was an obvious choice for the eagle for many reasons and seemed even more appropriate as Fujino tossed it skyward and the small crowd watched it return to the wild.
Hope’s return to the Hope Ranch was victorious and part of the usual practice followed by the rescue centre. “Hopefully, its mate is still around here somewhere,” stated Fujino. The rescue centre always returns adults from where they are rescued in hope that the bird will return to their natural routine. While there is no way to determine the sex or age of the eagle except that it is over five because of its developed distinct bald eagle markings, one thing was clear. Hope had no broken bones and was simply wasting away from starvation. After weeks getting the eagle fattened up and back building up its chest muscles so it could fly again, its return to the wild was glorious. Spreading its wing it took flight and after a swoop around to say a final farewell, Hope headed up the hillside to rest and recoup from its time well spent at South Okanagan Rehab. Landing up above the crowd was the easy part for this bald eagle. Its recovery was due to the Hope’s and Fujino at the Rehab Centre. “It is very rewarding seeing the eagle looking so healthy,” said June. “We are really glad to see it flying again.”
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“Isn’t this just awesome,” Brad said looking skyward. “It’s free again.”