Three-year-old eagle found at the landfill was rescued, rehabilitated and released. (Zoë Ducklow)

VIDEO: Rescued eagle released back into the North Island

The three-year-old female found mired in grease at Mount Waddington landfill recovered with gusto

A three-year-old eagle found mired in grease at the 7 Mile Landfill a few weeks ago has been released after successful rehabilitation. Rescuers say she was the feistiest eagle they’ve encountered, hoping that bodes well for her life back in the wild.

Staff at the 7 Mile Landfill noticed two eagles stuck in a pile of greasy silt at one end of a holding pond.

“It would have looked like a nice place to land beside the water,” said Patrick Donaghy, manager of operations with the Regional District of Mount Waddington who oversees the area’s solid waste program.

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Unfortunately for the eagles, what looked solid was a soft, silty pile of waste byproducts. When staff noticed the birds, who were struggling to get out of the muck, two staff rowed a boat out to help. They picked up the smaller of the two eagles, who seemed exhausted with its struggle, and was covered in mud.

While they helped that one into the boat, the second eagle grabbed onto a rope and pulled herself onto the boat, apparently seeing it as her best chance to survive.

Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) in Merville sent a volunteer to collect the birds the next morning. Sadly, by then the smaller eagle had passed away. The three-year-old female went to the Wildlife Rescue Hospital in Merville, just south of Campbell River, where staff cleaned off the grease.

It took some time for water to bead off her wings again, and she seemed eager to be back in the wild. Port McNeill resident Diedre Haight picked the bird up from MARS, and brought her back to the region from which she was rescued.

MARS staff advise the animal should be released within 10 miles of where they were found.

Haight and Donaghy drove the eagle in a pet carrier down a logging road not far from the landfill. The bird was feverishly flapping about in its cage. Moments after Haight opened the cage door, the eagle took off in flight, a blur of mottled brown and white feathers, absorbed back into the forest.

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