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Survival in doubt for rescued bald eagle

Posted at 5:58 PM, Mar 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-08 18:31:47-05

You need only stop off at the Conowingo Dam at the right time of year to realize the bald eagle has made a comeback.

No longer on the endangered to threatened list, they now count in the tens of thousands, but in tiny Boyds, Maryland, Suzanne Shoemaker is now caring for the single bird that has grabbed recent headlines here in Maryland.

"I don't want her to fly out.  Not that she can fly, but she can move," said Shoemaker, as she gave us a glimpse of the majestic bird that is still battling for its life after a recent accident, "We weren't sure to begin with that a car had hit it, but we assumed that because it was found along a road... it was in the road actually and it was reported anyway there was a deer carcass nearby and it was probably feeding on the deer carcass when it was hit."

Related: Montgomery County police officer rescues injured bald eagle

For all of the hawks, owls and other birds of prey that Shoemaker nurses back to health, eagles are the most challenging.

With a seven-foot wing span and potentially deadly talons, they are not for the weak or faint of heart.

But with damage to one of its mighty wings, there is no guarantee it will heal properly or that this bird will ever fly again.

"We are allowed to euthanize in cases like this,” said Shoemaker, “That is an option and we have to consider that option.  We don't want to.  We never want to and we will try our best to place her."

Just placing an eagle that can no longer fly is difficult as well, ironically because the abundance of the birds since they've rebounded from the brink of extinction.

Still, Shoemaker counts this bird lucky.

See also: Police investigating deaths of 13 bald eagles

"It's a happy story in the fact that it was rescued, because it would have probably lived about three or more weeks or so and starved to death and it wouldn't have been a happy ending,” said Shoemaker, “So at least now it's getting treatment.  It's getting pain medicine.  It's comfortable and we'll do what we can."
"And you're giving it a chance."
"Giving it a chance.  That's all we can really do."

Of the ten bald eagles she has treated in the last five years, most have recovered, and of those, which could not fly, Shoemaker has placed one in Virginia and one with the Salisbury Zoo on the Eastern Shore.

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