Wildlife rehabilitators save one animal at a time in Pennsylvania

During the past month, Centre Wildlife Care rehabilitator Robyn Graboski was able to successfully release two bald eagles that were under her care. I was fortunate to be invited to witness the first release.

The injured eagle was discovered in Snyder County on Sept. 14, 2017 by Kathy Bower and her son. They called the Pennsylvania Game Commission and officer Harold Malehorn helped them capture the eagle.

The eagle was transported to Centre Wildlife Care in Port Matilda, Centre County, where it was determined that the bird suffered from lead poisoning and a broken wing. The first diagnosis was that the eagle should be euthanatized, because the injury was so severe.

However, a second opinion suggested that rehabilitation was possible. The wing was splinted and the bird was treated for lead poisoning, which was likely caused by the ingestion of a lead bullet fragment or a lead fishing weight. The eagle recovered and tested its wings in a flight cage during the winter.

On Feb. 27, rehabilitator Robyn Graboski, Chet Gottfried and I transported the eagle back to Snyder County where it was released on State Game Land 194, in Snyder County.

Robyn opened the door of the pet carrier, and almost immediately the big raptor took off and flew about 35 yards, landing in a picked corn field. It seemed to assess its surroundings and then took off with strong wingbeats, clearing the trees and flying out of sight. Game Warden Malehorn was there for the release.

A second eagle was released near Williamsport on March 15. That immature bald eagle came to Centre Wildlife Care on Nov. 12, 2017, after she was hit by a car. Mike Michael Kuriga​ and his grandson Ethan rescued the bird – Ethan actually carried it into the clinic at Centre Wildlife. According to Graboski, it could not stand up at that point, and Centre Wildlife Care discovered that the eagle had lead poisoning and a bad bacterial infection.

“Lead depresses the immune system so they are more susceptible to infections and other injuries,” Graboski said.

The eagle needed extensive treatment to control the infection – Graboski reached out to get help with the expensive medical expenses. The eagle gradually recovered, thanks to the hard work of many Centre Wildlife volunteers who helped care for her and the staff at Animal Medical Hospital for assisting with medical care.

“This immature female eagle recovered against all odds and has risen from the ashes,” Graboski said.

These eagle releases are examples of the great work done at Centre Wildlife Care. While wildlife agencies typically look out for the welfare of a species, rehabilitators care for one animal, game and non-game species, at a time.

Categories: Pennsylvania – Mark Nale