A driver who picked up what he thought was a dead bald eagle off a B.C. highway got quite the shock after the bird started to show signs of life in the back seat of his van en route to the conservation office.
Mark Rice told CBC he was driving north on Highway 97 when he stopped to scoop up the apparently lifeless bird because it was being attacked by crows.
While en route to 100 Mile House, Rice heard a rustle from the back of his van and looked back to see the eagle staring at him.
“I’m like, hey, crap, this bird is alive!” Rice wrote in an email to CBC News.
Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen with 100 Mile House RCMP said Rice drove his van into the detachment parking lot saying he had a bald eagle in the back of his van.
Nielsen said it’s possible the eagle had a concussion of sorts and was completely knocked out before it revived in the moving vehicle.
“You can kind of imagine it, you know, sort of spreading its wings around and trying to get readjusted again and I mean, how much of an impact it would have to you in a vehicle [that] was moving down the highway … you wouldn’t want that there,” Nielsen said.
Rice said RCMP contacted the B.C. Conservation Officer Service and an officer arrived quickly and transferred the bird to a crate.
“The bird got more lively and stood up for the first time and had its wings now partially up,” said Rice, who took this as a good sign.
Conservation officer Joel Kline was able to put a blanket around the full-size adult and it was taken to a local veterinarian to be examined.
There are plans to take the eagle to a rehabilitation centre in the Lower Mainland.
Under the provincial Wildlife Act, it is illegal to possess a bald eagle in British Columbia.
Rice says this isn’t his first raptor rescue. He told CBC this is the second bald eagle he has found in distress and helped, the first being near Pitt Meadows, B.C.
He said he also rescued an owl about three years ago, and it was rehabilitated at a Lower Mainland facility.