In 2004 the Raptor View Research Institute in Missoula (RVRI) began applying wing-tag markers to Golden Eagles to aid in their eagle research. In January 2017, a motorist reported a Golden Eagle with wing-tags 294 injured and unable to fly after being hit by a truck along highway 200. It was after midnight, with temperatures around -15°F, when someone from the Wild Skies Raptor Center (WSRC) was able to get to the bird and bring it back to the Center.
The rehab crew at the Center worked overnight to stabilize 294, then took him to the Missoula Veterinary Clinic in the morning. The vet found the bird had a ruptured crop – a life threatening injury, since the crop is an integral part of the bird’s digestive system. The veterinary team performed emergency surgery to repair the crop. Back at WSRC 294 began recovering, and after about a month he was released back into the wild.
Three years later a Golden Eagle with wing-tags 294 showed up on a “camera trap” west of Missoula. He was alive and well! The tagging program of RVRI, the rehab efforts of WSRC, and the emergency care by the Missoula Vet Clinic, had all come together to produce this happy ending. And also to provide important evidence that putting expert rehabilitation efforts into Golden Eagles pays off.
For a more detailed version of this story and more pictures, go to the RVRI Facebook page at www.facebook.com/raptorviewresearchinstitute/posts