Sunday, January 10, 2016

Eagle Transport

Bald eagle, one of America's most majestic creatures sitting in a crate in my vehicle.

I've transported some really interesting creatures in the past few years, as I work in places where wild animals are kept as "animal ambassadors", have been trained to transport wildlife, and volunteer and work with projects that allow me to handle these animals.

Just when I think I've "seen it all", some really interesting opportunities always seem to arise.

One of the most recent examples of this happened a few days after Thanksgiving this past year.  

I heard through the "wildlife biologist grapevine" that an injured bald eagle from Virginia needed to be transported to a wildlife rehabilition center.  The eagle was reported injured by fishermen in central/Eastern Virginia and a Conservation Police Officer was tasked with restraining it for its own protection and getting it to a rehabilitation facility.

The logistics of this made it difficult, as a lot of mileage and time would be needed to get this eagle to the care it needed. A "middle man" became necessary to meet the Officer, intercept the eagle, and chauffeur it to the rehab center.
Carrying crate with eagle inside.

I quickly became this middle man.

Now, I've had a lot of precious cargo in my RAV4 before, but never a bald eagle, so this was a first, even for my standards.  I didn't have much in the way of plans for the evening and I knew it would only cost a few bucks to make the drive, so I was pretty excited to be able to not only help the animal, but all parties and agencies involved as well.

The Conservation Officer arrived promptly to my house with the injured eagle.  We exchanged hellos and some "how to's" and "do nots" were respectfully given to me, after all this was a federally protected bird. I agreed to make the drive one final time and was basically left to my own devices as long as this eagle made it to where it needed to go.

Also in my car were some members of the Sweeney family.   They are good friends of mine, and I wanted someone else to be there in case something went awry. I figured that the eagle would be fine for most of the ride in the very back of my SUV, but it wouldn't hurt to have some others checking on it once in a while, so that I could concentrate on driving.  They agreed to join me and their eyes lit up when they first saw the mature eagle.  It would be a good experience for everyone involved.

The first part of the drive went very smoothly.  We made our way westward and ultimately southwest to Waynesboro, Virginia.

As the Sweeney-filled, Brian-driven, bald eagle carrying Toyota Rav4 made its way down Route 340, a surprise almost stopped our vehicle completely.

A large black bear sprinted right across the road and my car came no more than 1 foot from hitting it. The passengers all screamed "BEAR!"

It was alive and well, running full speed through the road's lanes.

We saw the beast hurtle down into a wooded area off the road and eventually it was just a blur in the darkness.

After about 15 seconds of our bodies pumping adrenaline, we all exchanged laughs and agreed that this kind of experience would only happen to someone like me.

I'm glad we avoided having to take two animals to the Wildlife Center that evening.

The eagle arrived at the designated destination, hurt from its reported injury, but still breathing.  We meet with staff at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, people who came into work that late, just to intercept the eagle from me.  They do some amazing work at that facility and I highly support what they do and share.

I was happy that I did my part in this and am thrilled to have friends that also enjoy this type of adventure.

It was good to give back to wildlife, as it gives me so damn much.

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