WSU vet school helps injured bird get back on course – Lewiston Morning Tribune


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Considerable cloudiness with occasional rain showers. Thunder possible. High 59F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%..
A few clouds. Low 43F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: March 28, 2022 @ 8:48 am
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Lillian Zachary, a first-year vet student, releases a juvenile bald eagle for some flying practice across a field on the Pullman campus recently. The eagle came to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine after being shot and has since been rehabilitated for release back into the wild.
Professor Marcie Logsdon, center, holds out a juvenile bald eagle’s wing to check the progress of its injury as Kathryn Sutherland and Taylor Robbins, left, both fourth-year vet students, lean in for a look while Devin Schell, a vet tech assistant, holds the eagle.
An X-ray displays where the juvenile bald eagle was shot through the ulna in the wing. The wound also caused shrapnel to go into the eagle’s shoulder.
A juvenile bald eagle is held by Devin Schell prior to some flying practice on the WSU campus recently.
Kathryn Sutherland, a fourth-year vet student, releases an eagle as he takes off flying across a field recently. The group released the raptor into the air multiple times to fly across the field to help him exercise his wing and get strength back prior to him being released back into the wild.

Lillian Zachary, a first-year vet student, releases a juvenile bald eagle for some flying practice across a field on the Pullman campus recently. The eagle came to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine after being shot and has since been rehabilitated for release back into the wild.
Professor Marcie Logsdon, center, holds out a juvenile bald eagle’s wing to check the progress of its injury as Kathryn Sutherland and Taylor Robbins, left, both fourth-year vet students, lean in for a look while Devin Schell, a vet tech assistant, holds the eagle.
An X-ray displays where the juvenile bald eagle was shot through the ulna in the wing. The wound also caused shrapnel to go into the eagle’s shoulder.
A juvenile bald eagle is held by Devin Schell prior to some flying practice on the WSU campus recently.
Kathryn Sutherland, a fourth-year vet student, releases an eagle as he takes off flying across a field recently. The group released the raptor into the air multiple times to fly across the field to help him exercise his wing and get strength back prior to him being released back into the wild.
PULLMAN — Washington State University professor Marcie Logsdon meticulously examined the juvenile bald eagle’s wing feathers while a vet tech held the bird firmly but gently against his chest.
The attention and care being given the young raptor recently was 180 degrees from the kind of human interaction that brought it to WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine last fall with a broken wing.
Its injuries suggested someone aimed a rifle into a tree where it was perched and fired straight up. The shot entered the eagle’s wing, fracturing its ulna, and fragments traveled up through the shoulder, causing damage there as well.
It doesn’t just sound awful — “It is very, very illegal,” Logsdon said. Bald eagles are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection and Migratory Bird Treaty acts, and the incident was reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
As badly as the eagle was injured, it was “very, very fortunate” that the bullet missed vital structures, Logsdon said, allowing for wound management that included wrapping the wing to immobilize it while the bone knitted together.
“Birds are amazing,” she said of the eagle’s recovery.
The approximately 1½-year-old male eagle arrived at WSU in late October from around Curlew, Wash., via the Kettle River Raptor Center in Kettle Falls, Wash., and healed relatively quickly. Its caregivers chose to hold their patient over the winter and release it at a “more appropriate” time as spring approached.
Preparation for its return to life in the wild was achieved in part through “creancing,” or flights made while tethered to a long lead.
“The purpose is physical conditioning,” Logsdon explained, as she and several veterinary students prepared for a session.
A typical conditioning regimen is two to three times a week, for two to four weeks, with about 15 flights per session.
“They tend to improve very, very quickly,” Logsdon said.
The staff at WSU’s Raptor Rehabilitation Program treats roughly 150 raptors per year, typically including six to 12 eagles.
Some are injured, often because of collisions with vehicles; many are experiencing symptoms of lead poisoning, so much so that every eagle that comes into the hospital gets a blood test for lead, Logsdon said.
Eagles — bald and golden — don’t just hunt; they scavenge. A gut pile from an animal dressed out in the field can be laced with spent ammunition, making it a dangerous meal.
“There are nontoxic options available for ammunition,” Logsdon said, noting the alternatives have been slow to catch on.
In the weeks leading up to its release, the young eagle became accustomed to outings at the Rogers-Orton Playfield on the WSU campus, where, attached to about 200 feet of rope, it made practice flights involving varying degrees of success and grace.
First-year veterinary student Lillian Zachary, who also helps care for a resident golden eagle at the school’s raptor center, was learning along with the young bald eagle on a crisp, sunny day late last month.
Vet tech assistant Devin Schell demonstrated the technique of releasing the raptor while providing it with some forward momentum. Essentially throwing the bird, in an intentional way.
Logsdon coached Zachary on how best to position the animal as she tossed it forward for a flight.
The eagle appeared unfazed by being handled by different students and employees.
“The males do tend to be a little bit more docile,” Logsdon said.
An observer might wonder, watching vet techs and students lob the young eagle into the air for “test flights”: How heavy is this seemingly enormous bird?
“An eagle weighs about the same amount as your average house cat,” Logsdon said.
Male eagles weigh less than females, and this one is about 7 pounds.
The mighty-looking but lightweight eagle was returned to near where it was found in Ferry County, Wash., earlier this month, but not every bird that comes to the program can be released.
When the young eagle was done being exercised, Zachary spent some time with another eagle, this one a permanent resident of WSU’s Stauber Raptor Facility.
The bald eagle, like other rescued animals slated for release, was referred to by staff and students by the last name of its rescuers. But the golden eagle Zachary works with has a name: Amicus, Latin for “friend” or “comrade,” who came to WSU in 2006. He was found as a fledgling and now weighs about 7 pounds.
Amicus is blind, Zachary explained, possibly from lead poisoning, though the cause was never definitively identified. His life has been dedicated to familiarizing people with and educating them about raptors, and his responsiveness to Zachary’s handling was evident.
“He enjoys getting out and about,” she said, as Amicus stretched his neck and tilted his head toward a small group of visitors.
He’ll continue his ambassadorship for the raptor program, while the young bald eagle serves as an example of what the rehabilitation program can do to return birds to the wild.
Stone (she/her) can be reached at mstone@inland360.com.
PULLMAN — When an injured raptor comes to the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine for treatment, the goal is always to …
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