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Eagle Emergency

It’s not often a leisurely kayaking trip turns into an unexpected rescue operation for an injured eagle struggling to survive. Add in the fact that it is Memorial Day, and the situation becomes even more personal for a former state senator and his brother, a retired physician, who believe the bird won’t last long on its own. Wild Side Guide Steve Hall takes us to the water’s edge to learn the rest of the story.

When it comes to helping wildlife, it’s important to do it the right way. The most important thing to remember is to never keep a wild animal and try to care for it yourself. Not only could you cause more harm to the animal, it’s also illegal. So always take injured or orphaned wildlife to an authorized wildlife rehabilitator like the folks at Walden’s Puddle. To find one in your area, visit the TWRA website. (If you suspect an animal is orphaned, always check thoroughly to make sure its mother is not nearby.)

While Doug and Roger were assisted by a wildlife professional, usually it will be up to you to get the animal to the rehabilitator…they won’t be able to come to you. So remember to handle animals with care, always wear gloves, wash your hands after conacting an animal, and get immediate medical help if you are bitten. Now here are some basic steps the folks at Walden’s Puddle recommend you follow when providing emergency care for wild animals:

  • Prepare a cardboard box or pet carrier by placing an old towel or rags inside. The box should only be large enough for the animal to rest comfortably in but not so large that it can thrash around and cause further damage. Make sure there is adequate ventilation.

  • Wear heavy gloves to prevent risk of injury or transfer of diseases.

  • If the animal is small and not attempting to bite, scratch or puncture you with talons, pick it up and place it in the container.

  • If the animal is large or attempting to do any of the above, gently use a broom or similar item to scoot it into the container. If the animal is winged, you can throw a sheet or blanket over it and slide it into the box.

  • Keep in mind when capturing the animal the way in which it hunts or forages for food. Does it use its talons, its beak or its teeth to hunt? It will also use these to defend itself.

  • Be mindful of the animal and the chosen transport container. Make sure that it is secure. Many animals can squeeze through the smallest of gaps and can push or pull with great strength when scared. Also, many animals such as chipmunks and squirrels can chew through cardboard. Keep this in mind as loose animals in a car can be a tricky situation.

  • Place the container in a warm, dark, quiet place away from people and pets to reduce its stress until you are able to get it to Walden’s Puddle or your local wildlife rehabilitator.

  • Warmth is critical as the animal’s body temperature is lowered when in shock. It may be helpful to place a heating pad on LOW underneath only half of the animal’s box or carrier.

You can find more specific instructions for different animals on the Walden’s Puddle website. Walden’s Puddle is the only professionally-staffed wildlife rehabilitation and education facility in Middle Tennessee and maintains permits and strong collaborative relationships with both the TWRA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The best way to reach them is by phone at 615-299-9938.

From show 2803