A baby eagle rescued from storm debris after a microburst struck Pelletier Island in northern Aroostook County was euthanized when the bird was found to be more severely injured than initially thought.
The eagle was one of two babies in a nest atop a tree on the Pelletier Island vacation home of Rachel and Scott Fortin.
The island of about 100 residential and seasonal buildings located on Long Lake and surrounded by the towns of St. Agatha and Madawaska was struck on Tuesday, July 12, by a microburst, which substantially damaged at least 10 properties. No people were injured, but the eagle’s nest was knocked to the ground.
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Concerned for the eagles, Rachel Fortin contacted the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife the morning after the storm. Meanwhile, Scott Fortin and some neighbors took out chainsaws and tractors to get through the debris in an attempt to find the fallen eagle’s nest.
After crawling through debris, Game Warden Ed Christie located the nest on the ground. The other baby eagle was dead. Due to its condition, Fortin said it likely had died before the storm.
The surviving eaglet was transported in a Fortin family dog crate to Avian Haven, a hospital for wild birds and turtles in Freedom, to recover from a broken wing. X-rays showed a serious injury to the bird’s left elbow, which is critical to the wing’s structure and function, according to Avian Haven executive director Leigh Hallett on Wednesday.
Avian Haven consulted with a wildlife veterinarian specializing in eagles who said that given the nature and location of the injury, the eaglet would not have had a comfortable life in captivity and would have starved in the wild. Euthanization was the humane option, Hallett said.
“We are particularly sad about the ending of this bird’s story, but we balance that sadness with knowing that the alternative would have been slow and painful starvation. We are grateful to all who helped to make that humane outcome possible,” Hallett said.