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Injured bald eagle faces long recovery

BEND  — A bald eagle found injured by Wickiup Reservoir faces a long recovery if she is to ever fly again.

While X-rays show the large female bird does not have any broken bones, her left wing needs time to heal from a possible electric shock injury, said Jeannette Bonomo, vice president of High Desert Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation east of Bend.

"It's going to be a long process if she survives," Bonomo said. The rehabilitation could take up to a year, with the bald eagle likely to lose and then regrow flight feathers on the wing. The bird may have been injured when she landed on a power pole and came into contact with power lines.

Someone headed to Wickiup Reservoir on Tuesday afternoon found the bald eagle with an injured wing alongside South Century Drive. Bonomo said her pickup was in the shop so she was not able to retrieve the bird.

A U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer and a Deschutes County Sheriff's law enforcement technician stepped in to help. Bonomo said the Forest Service officer located the bird and kept track of her until the Deschutes County tech — who handles animal complaints and whose truck is equipped to haul an animal — arrived.

Although unable to fly, the bird was trying to escape into the woods, said Deschutes County Sheriff's Sgt. Vance Lawrence. He said Law Enforcement Technician Josh Barker easily caught up with the bald eagle.

"Big birds like that, they don't run," Lawrence said. "They just kind of hop."

The key to the capture turned out to be a small blanket Barker had with him, which he draped over the bird and then scooped her up. He then put her into a large carrier in the back of his truck and brought her to the rehabilitation center east of Bend.

At the rehabilitation center, wildlife rehabilitators found the bird to have a festering wound, likely suffered a week to 10 days ago, Bonomo said Tuesday. Along with dead skin, the wound held hundreds of maggots. Initially Bonomo thought the bird may have been shot, but after the X-rays and closer inspection she said an electric shock likely caused the injury. The wound spreads across a good portion of the bald eagle's wing.

"It would be like if you had road rash on your arm from your wrist almost to your elbow," she said.

Despite the wound, the bald eagle was able to maintain her weight, which is an encouraging sign. It weighed in at about 10 pounds .

The bald eagle joins two bald eagles and a golden eagle already being cared for by High Desert. The nonprofit group started in 2013, and Bonomo said it is looking for volunteers, as well as cash and food donations. Feeding the birds of prey alone costs about $1,500 a month, she said. The bald eagle will dine on a menu of frozen rats, mice, chicks, quail and some donated fresh roadkill.

The bald eagle is lucky she was found, Lawrence said. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office does not get many calls about injured wild animals. Typically if an animal like a bald eagle is injured, Lawrence said it will hide out.

"It's pretty rare that you get an eagle standing over the middle of the roadway," he said.