Doctors at The Animal Hospital in Slingerlands say a bald eagle shot in October in Columbia County is making progress, but are cautious to talk about a full recovery.
The juvenile bald eagle was shot Oct. 12 at Nutten Hook State Unique Area in Stuyvesant. The bird was taken that day to the facility in Slingerlands, where veterinarian Ed Becker and his staff began their work.
“When he came in, he was in critical condition,” Becker explained about the status of the eagle. “He was in shock. He had lost a lot of blood. He had been shot the equivalent of nine times.”
In fact, Becker said that if a hiker had not been in the area at the time, heard the gunshots, and found the bird, the eagle may not have made it.
Becker, who owns the hospital along with his daughter Lexi, has been a consulting veterinarian to the State Department of Environmental Conservation for years, and said he has treated hundreds of eagles in his career.
This case, however, required quick action, as Becker said the eagle couldn’t stand, and had bullets everywhere, including in his brain.
The staff at the hospital began their work immediately, drawing blood from the eagle, and conducting a number of tests to assess the health of the animal. X-rays revealed a fractured wing, along with a number of other injuries, but Becker never thought about the possibility of the bird not surviving.
“It’s never an issue where I allow that to even get into my head,” said Becker. “It doesn’t occur to me. It’s only, I think, 24, 36 and 48 hours out that I’m saying, ‘Ok, he’s still alive. That’s awesome.’”
The eagle, which is protected from hunters under state and federal law, is improving with each day. Doctors were able to control an infection, and the bird, who has taken on the name “Spirit,” is now off of antibiotics. The eagle has even started to eat on his own, which Becker is thrilled to see.