|A great horned owl from the Lisbon Valley recovers at the Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. The owl was hit by a motorist and transported to Price, where he is making a fast recovery.|
Eagles and owls are among the most savage and cunning predators in the avian world but when they reach Debbie Pappas and her right hand volunteer Connie Waddel, it is the birds who are in danger of losing their lives.
Pappas, along with a small but dedicated group of volunteers, is currently caring for two golden eagles, a bald eagle and a great horned owl at the Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
According to Pappas, the eagles have all been hit by coal trucks near the Dugout mine, causing injury that required surgery in all. The bald eagle, named Thor by the group, is slated for release on March 12 near where he was hit.
"The Wellington Savage Yard and especially Dave Palacios have been really good about working with us," said Pappas. "He has done a lot to educate his drivers
"That area has been really dangerous for eagles this year due to the amount of prey that is available along the road," explained Pappas. "We will be releasing Thor in the same area because bald eagles mate for life and I have to try and re-unite him with his mate. We hope she is waiting for him but if we don't get him back out there soon she will leave for Alaska without him."
Pappas reported that the bald eagles that are not indigenous to this area typically leave by April 15 to migrate to Alaska.
"If it was not for his mate I would not release him in that area, it is really very dangerous for these birds because as long as the road kill is out there, they are going to be on the road," said Pappas.
Pappas asked that all motorists be mindful of the large birds of prey as they travel this year, recommending that they slow down, watch for the birds and honk if they see them on the road.
Bald eagles were officially declared an endangered species in 1967 in all areas of the United States south of the 40th parallel, under a law that preceded the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
Until 1995, the bald eagle had been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 43 of the 48 lower states and listed as threatened in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Washington and Oregon.
In July of 1995, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service upgraded the status of bald eagles in the lower 48 states to threatened.
According to baldeagleinfo.com, On June 28, 2007 the Interior Department took the American bald eagle off the Endangered Species List. The bald eagle will still be protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
The Bald Eagle Protection Act prohibits the take, transport, sale, barter, trade, import, export and possession of eagles making it illegal to anyone to collect eagles and eagle parts, nests, or eggs without a permit. Native Americans are able to possess these emblems which are traditional in their culture.
"All the eagles that cannot be released back into the wild because they are too badly injured are taken down to the Zuni Tribe in New Mexico," said Pappas. "They are great stewards of the wildlife and use the feathers in their spiritual ceremonies."
|"Thor," as he was named at the center, perches within the facilitys flight as he awaits his release. Thor was released near the area where his mate is waiting.|
The bald eagle was called in by Savage driver Glen Nielson who reported the downed eagle and was instrumental in getting him to Pappas.
The golden eagles currently at the rehabilitation center consist of one male and one female, Hardware and Amazing Grace.
Hardware earned his moniker when a surgery resulting from his accident caused 32 screws to be placed in his wing to stabilize it.
"He is our newest arrival," said Pappas. "And he could be with us awhile, his injuries were really very extensive."
According to Pappas, the cost of caring for these animals is extensive, the surgery that Hardware required started at over $1,000 not including the cost of feeding and medication during his stay at the center.
Golden Eagles, mascot of the local College of Eastern Utah, have brown plumage with some white at the base of the tail and golden to blonde feathers in the back of the head. Golden eagles are masters of soaring. With large wingspreads from six and a half to seven and a half feet, these birds can soar for long periods of time with little wing flapping.
According to dersertusa.com, they catch thermals, rising masses of warm air, to carry them in a spiral fashion upward high into the sky. If the bird spots prey while soaring, it can tuck its wings and swoop at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. The golden eagle is also known for using its tremendous eyesight to locate prey.
"One of the main problems roadkill presents for these birds is that they will not leave it until it is completely gone," said Pappas. "If they find a meal they don't have to battle for and does not force them to exert valuable energy they will place themselves in harms way to pick it dry every time."
Pappas cautioned that removing roadkill from the highway can be dangerous and should be undertaken with care. She explained however that it is one of the best ways to keep these large birds from being injured or killed.
The second golden eagle at the center, Amazing Grace, was given her name because according to Pappas, she had survived not one but two collisions on the road.
"We could not believe she survived being hit twice," said Pappas. "So she became Amazing Grace to us."
Pappas reported that when the golden eagles are ready to be released she will take them at least 50 miles from the area to keep them from returning to the road near the mine.
Lastly, Pappas and her crew are caring for a large great horned owl.
According to Pappas, he was hit by a car in the Lisbon Valley between Moab and Monticello.
"He had been grounded for at least five days when he came to us," said Pappas. "His wing was hanging very badly and he was very thin, but man he sure put the weight back on fast."
Great horned owls are one of the earliest spring nesting birds; eggs may be laid in January or February through April. Great horned owls tend to perch during the daylight hours in a protected rocky alcove or on a tree limb.
"He has been a lot of fun to have," said Pappas. "Seeing these birds thrive again is worth every second it takes to rescue them."