Outrage as wedge-tailed eagle shot out of Gympie skies
IN a sickening act of local animal cruelty, a wedge-tail eagle was allegedly shot out of the sky near Gympie earlier this week.
The eagle, believed to be a young adult, has received significant damage to it's left wing from a bullet, the fragments of which are still believed to be embedded in the wing.
"Someone had found it just nears Wilsons Pocket Rd," Paula Rowlands says.
"We managed to transport it - very carefully - although it did knick my partner David in the hand as we were trying to move it."
Beyond some notoriously sharp talons, the difficulties of helping the eagle became apparent.
"It was found in a bad way, and was eventually moved to a veterinarian in North Brisbane " Dr Bob Doneley, a registered specialist in bird medicine at the University of Queensland says.
"Because of the size and the difficulty in treating these birds, it was sent to us at the university."
Dr Doneley is one of two specialists in Queensland, and only a handful Australia-wide, who specialise in this treatment.
His initial assessment of the eagle, already in an agitated state, reveals a very painful and long road to recovery.
"The wound was maybe around three days old, and so the main focus at the moment has been cleaning the wound and eliminating any traces of infection," he says.
"Following that, it's a question of treating the injury as an open wound."
There are already a number of proposed treatments for the wing, including using external pins or even bone grafts.
What's consistent though is the amount of time it'll take before the eagle is anywhere near the state and strength it used to be.
"We're easily looking at around a year or so of rehabilitation," Dr Doneley says.
"Even with the fracture healed, it'll be a question of building up the strength and stamina in that wing again.
"If you break your leg and get the cast off, you're not going to run a three-minute mile - same situation."
Being of the few specialists in assisting injured eagles, the Gympie Times asked Dr Doneley if incidences like these are common.
The answer was grim.
"Unfortunately, with a lot of cases where eagles have been shot, they're usually killed outright," he says.
"What is more common is them being run over - they are carrion feeders and it's far more likely they'll be struck by a vehicle."
Wedge-tailed eagles are a protected species and killing them can result in significant fines.
"I'd just like to say if you know of anybody shooting in the area, please report them," Paula Rowlands says.
"They're a beautiful animal and what they're doing is just horrible."
How to help injured eagles
Although the team at UQ are spending tens of thousands of dollars to help these beautiful birds, public assistance and funding is still vital.
Donations to the department are able to be made to the UQ School of Veterinary Science here.