Toward the end of Sunday morning, Roger Giles went upstream in his small boat to inspect a trotline he had put out the night before.
“I noticed this bald eagle on the bank,” said Giles. “The eagle jumped three or four times and then landed in the water.”
Giles watched as the eagle grabbed on to a floating tree limb and appeared to work its way upstream. When the limb snapped, the eagle became distressed.
“It floated out, got caught in the current, and was taken out deeper into the river,” he said.
Giles said it took him about 90 seconds to get back in his boat and move toward the eagle.
“I worked this landing net under it, kind of like a stretcher, and just lifted it into my boat,” he said.
Giles brought the eagle back to his larger boat at Cooper’s Landing in the hopes that it would dry out and fly away on its own.
Within minutes of returning to the boat, he placed two calls to the Missouri Department of Conservation and two others to the Raptor Rehabilitation Program, part of the MU Veternary School.
After several hours, he realized it was not going to recover on its own and made the decision to take it in to Raptor Rehab.
“He was very lethargic, very non-agressive, kind of sleepy,” said Christa Moore, public relations officer for the Raptor Rehabilitation Project. “When they realized that there were no broken bones, they proceeded to do some blood testing and put him on some cage rest.”
The eagle’s condition has slighty improved, but it remains on fluids and cage rest.
This is the eighth eagle the rehabilitation project has taken care of this year. Most were struck by vehicles.
While the tests on this eagle have not come back yet, Moore speculated the cause could have come from lead toxicity.
“They get it through the food they eat, lead shot,” she said. “They will pick up a lot of lead in their system which is toxic to them in high quantites.”
Moore says she hopes to have the test results back soon.