Eagles dying from Avian flu

Linn Eves, founder of the Bluewater Centre for Raptor Rehabilitation opens the crate to allow a bald eagle to return to a woodlot near Dresden. A family called Eves after the majestic bird sat in the snowy field for a couple of days this winter. He was released Saturday. Eves was glad to rehabilitate the bird saying the centre has received a large number of eagles this year, and three have died of Avian flu.

When Linn Eves of the Bluewater Centre for Raptor Rehabilitation released an eagle in a field off Greenvalley Line near Dresden, it was a welcome relief.
Eves and her volunteers have been dealing with a lot of injured eagles of late because of the Avian flu.

On Feb. 1, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found the highly contagious virus in birds. Since then there have been 18 Ontario flocks found with the virus, including one in Chatham-Kent. Raptors, like eagles in the wild, are highly susceptible to Avian flu and Saturday, while waiting to release the eagle in Dresden, Eves told The Independent she and her volunteers have picked up five eagles this spring. Usually, the centre will deal with just one this early in the year.

Three have already been confirmed to have Avian flu. There is nothing that can be done to save the majestic birds.

Eves says the Bluewater Centre is one of just a handful accepting the birds now. It has set up two special quarantine areas at volunteer’s homes to make sure the virus doesn’t spread before the animals die.

Eves adds there is little anyone can do to stop the Avian Flu from making the rounds in the wild.

So when the eagle, found months ago by Rick and Sue Piacek, was ready to be released back into the bush on Greenvalley Line, it was a moment of joy in a difficult time. The Piacek’s had seen the bird sitting the field in the winter. Eves and her team nursed the bird back to health.

Eves believes the eagle had a collision which temporarily blinded it.

When the massive bird emerged from its crate, flapping its wings slowly as it reached the tree tops, members of Piacek family watched with pleasure to see a happy ending for the bird dubbed Karl.

And for Eves, it was bittersweet – a reminder of the eagles felled by the Avian flu who would not take flight again.