Surgery Friday for bald eagle with broken wing

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Veterinarians don’t know how a bald eagle found in a Sabine Parish ditch wound up with a broken wing. But there’s no evidence of a bullet wound, says Ginger Guttner, spokeswoman for the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.

The eagle was scheduled for surgery Friday at the vet school in Baton Rouge, followed by rehabilitation there, Guttner told The Times (http://bit.ly/1a8CAxY).

The length of rehabilitation time depends on how successful the surgery is, she said.

If the bird can be returned to the wild, veterinarians and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will return it to the general area where it was found.

Choctaw-Apache Tribe Assistant Chief Jake Rivers — a sheriff’s deputy who helped capture the eagle — hopes that will happen.

The bald eagle is one of the “most sacred things in my world,” Rivers said.

Rivers got a call about the crippled bird from someone in the Aimwell community. Even though it couldn’t fly, it was hard to catch. Rivers said he kept it from leaving until wildlife agents arrived with a net.

Once the eagle was in a pet carrier, the agents could tell the injury wasn’t severe, said Adam Einck, spokesman for the department’s enforcement division.

Veterinarians will try to determine the cause of the injury.

About eight to 10 injured bald eagles come to LSU’s veterinary school each year, Guttner said. She said birds make up most of the 1,800 injured wild creatures brought to the school annually.

Bald eagle nests are common along Toledo Bend Reservoir, where the large birds feed on fish along the water’s edge, and along Louisiana’s coastal marshes.

Bald eagles and their feathers are considered a sacred part of the Native American culture. The birds, believed to have a direct connection to God, represent strength and freedom, while their feathers are symbols of prayers being carried to the creator.

“When a Native American is presented with an eagle feather, it is equivalent to receiving the Purple Heart. It’s that sacred,” Rivers said.

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Information from: The Times, http://www.shreveporttimes.com

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