IRONWOOD, Mich. — Ottawa National Forest employees Forest Paukert, Zone Fire Management Officer, and Ryan Mash, Forestry Technician – Fire, witnessed a bald eagle unsuccessfully launch from the roadside and get struck by a passing semi-truck on June 21. The eagle was severely injured and unable to fly. Forest Service employees quickly contacted additional resources to begin recovery efforts to get the eagle help.
Those additional resources, included District Ranger Barbara Van Alstine, Wildlife Biologist Pam Nankervis, and Environmental Coordinator Chris Kovala. Paukert and Mash led the group to the site of the incident and found the eagle unable to walk or fly, dragging itself by its wings. The group worked to make the appropriate contacts to capture, transport, and treat the injured eagle. After being caught, the eagle was successfully transported to Chocolay Raptor Center in Marquette, Michigan. The eagle was banded, telling his age - 17 years old, and where he was hatched in Michigan. The original prognosis for this eagle wasn’t good, with a diagnosis of spinal or other nerve damage. However, after medical attention and care, he was able to stand for short periods of time and was eating and drinking well.
The eagle was transported to Lower Michigan, to Wings of Wonder, on June 6, where his recovery continued. July 13, he was successfully released in Leelanau County and now flies free! He will most likely return back to his familiar territory at the beginning of the breeding season. This success story is thanks to Forest Service employees going above and beyond to help one of the Forest’s majestic creatures.