Bald eagle lucky to be flying after getting badly tangled in fishing line

A young bald eagle is lucky to be flying again after one of its wings and legs got tangled in fishing line.

The eagle was rescued at the end of May by workers at the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (PWRC), after it was spotted on the ground outside of Winnipeg. Although the bird was found in relatively good shape, it was still under a lot of stress.

“You do have this idea of bald eagles being majestic and royal, so to see it on the ground unable to move is disheartening.” Lisa Tretiak, president of the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, told Global News.

After spending a few weeks in care, the eagle was deemed healthy enough to fly again. Workers from the rehab centre brought the raptor to the parking lot of Canvasback Pet Supplies in Lockport, where a small crowd gathered to watch them release the bird.

Bald Eagle released today in Lockport at Canvasback Pets! Thanks to everyone who came. Fly Free!

Posted by Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre on Saturday, June 18, 2016

But the eagle was reluctant to leave its cage when they first opened the door.

“It can see a lot of the audience here so it can be a little intimidating,” Tretiak told CBC News. “It does take them a while to adjust…before they will leave the safety of the enclosure.”

After a little coaxing from the centre’s staff, the eagle hopped out of its cage, and in a matter of seconds, the once-injured bird was soaring high above the crowd.

Despite the eagle’s initial hesitation, Tretiak says that it’s important to involve the public in wildlife releases, especially cases like these. It’s not just a way for the PWRC to showcase the work they do, it also allows them to educate people about the dangers of leaving things like hooks and fishing line behind.

“We just really want to encourage people to really clean up after themselves and to show that we’ve helped this animal go back into the wild,” she said. “It’s really important to not release things into the environment unless [they] can break down fairly quickly.”

It’s an important reminder for everyone, but especially avid outdoors people like anglers and hunters. In addition to incidents like these, an estimated 25 percent of eagles brought into North American rehab centres are suffering from serious lead poisoning, and leftover ammunition is the leading culprit.