By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Nash resident John Wilkins likes to go to the nearby Salt Fork River to take photographs. On one trip this spring, Wilkins found a wounded bald eagle he was able to rescue.
“I’ve taken pictures of eagles there before. There are a lot who fly around there,” he said.
While attempting to take a picture April 30, Wilkins observed an eagle that could be injured.
“I got the camera. He saw me and started walking into the woods,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins then contacted Grey Snow Eagle House Research, which operates an eagle rescue operation at Perkins. Grey Snow Eagle House is operated by the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma.
Aviary manager Victor Roubidoux came to Nash with his son and accompanied Wilkins to the area where he had seen the eagle. They followed the eagle for about an hour and a half, noting it was mobile, but on the ground. Roubidoux and his son picked up the eagle and took it to the rescue for medical treatment.
The eagle had a damaged right wing, with only bone showing on the end. Rescuers believe the young eagle struck a high line or a fence. The wing had to be amputated, and the eagle cannot be returned to the wild.
Wilkins recently visited the rehabilitation program to see the eagle, which Grey Snow Eagle House workers have named Nash. He said the eagle is young and is in isolation, but seems to be doing well.
“They will keep it for the rest of its life,” Wilkins said.
Eagles that are cared for and are determined able to support themselves are released back into the wild.
Wilkins’ farm includes an area near Oklahoma 132 at the Salt Fork River. There is a rapids in the area where he likes to go take photographs.
Grey Snow Eagle House attempts to rehabilitate injured eagles it receives and turn them back to nature. The eagles are fed the same type of food they would eat in the wild, and are kept in an outdoor facility. Sometimes, the eagle must be retaught to fly, Wilkins said.
Grey Snow Eagle House was completed in January 2006, through funds provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and the Iowa Tribe. Grey Snow Eagle House operates under two USFWS permits. The religious-use permit allows the tribe to house eagles that are non-releasable due to the nature or severity of their injuries. This permit also allows the tribe to gather naturally molted feathers and distribute them to tribal members for use in cultural ceremonies.
The second permit allows the tribe to rehabilitate eagles for their eventual release. As of March, the program housed 46 non-releasable eagles, 12 golden eagles and 34 bald eagles, according to the tribe’s website. It has successfully rehabilitated and released eight bald eagles.