A young golden eagle is recovering well at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve – Photo: Lindsay Caskenette

The young golden eagle is still grounded as he waits to heal from the fracture to his scapular and an infection caused by porcupine quills

A golden eagle is recovering at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve after arriving in August, weighing only half of what a healthy eagle should weigh. The bird, brought up from Watson Lake, had a fractured scapular, which was preventing him from flying.
According to Jake Paleczny, executive director of the preserve, the male eagle was down to 2.3 kg, significantly below the 4.5 to 5.5 kg range for healthy males. He was also covered in parasites.

With some rest time, anti-parasite treatment and observation, the eagle was moved to the large flight pen after four days.
“While we were able to identify the eagle’s injury we do not know how or when the injury occurred,” said Paleczny. “This is often the case in rehabilitation cases and can make a full diagnosis challenging. His low weight and some damage to his tail feathers suggests that the eagle was on the ground and wasn’t able to get much food for a while. This means that the injury is likely to have occurred at least a couple of weeks before he was brought to us.”

By the end of August, a diet of three to four quail a day had boosted the eagle’s weight to 3.25 kg—a positive gain for a two-week period—but he had also developed an infection in both of his feet. A physical examination revealed that the young eagle made the mistake of attempting to scavenge a porcupine and suffered the consequences. It is unknown when the quill incident occurred, but, with time, the quills migrated, allowing for their removal and a subsequent prescription of anti-inflammatory and pain management medication, as well as antibiotics and an antifungal treatment.

“The eagle responds very well to animal care,” says Paleczny., “He does not get overly stressed, willingly accepts and ingests the antibiotics, and allows frequent rebandaging and laser therapy of his feet by staff.”
While the eagle’s initial diagnosed fracture is healing well (he can be seen attempting flight in the large outdoor public viewable aviary) he will likely remain at the Preserve’s Rehabilitation Centre for the winter due to the additional complication of the infection. Staff are hopeful he can be released in the spring.

“We will continue to monitor him carefully and ensure the best care possible is given to him to encourage the best possible outcome, a second chance at life, getting him back on his wings and back to the wild,” said Paleczny.
Meantime, the preserve is also steadying itself after the pandemic produced a 60 per cent decline in visitation and associated revenues over the spring and summer. Paleczny said there’s been an increase in donations, but the road ahead will be long and challenging for the preserve.

To find out more, visit YukonWildlife.ca.

Living With Wildlife – Steve Wilson