Eagle Suffers from Car Strike

February 25, 2022

The von Arx Wildlife Hospital is located at and part of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Open 365 days a year from 8am-8pm. Call 239-262-2273 for wildlife assistance. 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples FL.

A bald eagle was among the fifty-three animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a red-shouldered hawk, a burrowing owl, a white ibis, a peninsula cooter and a marsh rabbit.

The bald eagle was rescued by staff and volunteers from Big Cypress National Preserve after it was seen along the side of Highway 41.

The rescue was challenging because the eagle moved into a body of water when approached. Volunteers with Big Cypress used a canoe to ‘corner’ the eagle so staff could capture and transport the eagle to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for care.

The eagle was alert when admitted and reactive when handled; hospital staff used a falconry hood to cover the eagle’s eyes to help calm the bird.

von Arx Wildlife Hospital staff use falconry hoods when handling injured bald eagles and other birds of prey. The darkness created by the hood removes visual stimuli thus calming the bird making examination safer and less stressful for the bird.

A physical exam was performed.

The eagle was wet from being in the canal, showed increased respiratory effort and rate, had an overload of external parasites called feather lice and its left wing was very swollen and droopy compared to the right. A radiograph showed the eagle’s left wing was fractured at the elbow. The fracture was not repairable due to the location and severity of the injury; therefore, the only treatment option was humane euthanasia.

Busy Highway 41

While the cause of the injury is uncertain, Highway 41 is a busy roadway and is deadly for many species of wildlife. The force required to cause such a severe injury would be similar to what we’ve seen in vehicle strikes. 

Obey posted speed limits and stay focused when driving; being alert may provide you enough time to avoid hitting an animal.

If you do hit an animal, safely pull over and offer assistance if you are able. Always keep human safety the main priority.

Keeping rescue gear in your car (ventilated box, towel, gloves) will allow you to respond if a wildlife emergency arises.

Always call the wildlife hospital if you have questions. Staff will do their best to determine the appropriate course of action and offer guidance.

Recent Releases

Five eastern cottontails, two grey squirrels, a Brazilian free-tailed bat, two Florida box turtles, a striped mud turtle, three gopher tortoises and a Florida snapping turtle were released this past week.

Baby Season is Approaching

Please visit our website and learn about opportunities to get involved.

The start of our busy spring baby season is quickly approaching; volunteer help is essential for us to care for the influx of baby animal patients we will receive at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

If you are unable to give of your time as a volunteer, become a member or donate. No matter how you choose to become involved, be assured your support allows the Conservancy to continue to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future. 

Joanna Fitzgerald is Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Call 239-262-2273 or see conservancy.org.