Williams Lake Band councillor releases eagle he and his wife saved back into wild

A Williams Lake Indian Band councillor says it’s a good omen that he and his wife saved an injured eagle four months ago and released the rehabilitated bird back into the wild last week.

Rick Gilbert had just spent several weeks recuperating from a heart attack when he and his wife encountered what looked like a dead eagle while driving to Williams Lake from Kamloops in November 2018

The eagle was lying in the middle of Highway 97, just south of 70 Mile House, B.C.

“I said … “let’s go back and salvage some of the feathers, because it’s an honourable thing to do, to salvage the feathers from a dead bird and not just let it lie there and get mutilated on the highway,” Anna Gilbert told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce.

Watch the eagle being released here:

‘Looking right at us’

Rick agreed. But when they approached the eagle, they were surprised to find it wasn’t dead. The bird wasn’t moving but it was staring right at them.

The couple decided to pick up the bird and take it with them. They wrapped the eagle in Rick’s favourite blanket.

“When I picked it up it it felt good and solid and warm and strong,” said Rick. “It didn’t feel sickly and it didn’t struggle.”

Rehabilitation centre

They drove to a veterinary hospital in the town of 100 Mile House where it was cared for overnight. From there, the eagle was transferred to the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta, B.C.

They later found out that the eagle was suffering from lead poisoning and hadn’t been hit by a car, as they had presumed. 

Rick and Anna checked on the bird’s progress periodically over the next few months and were asked if they wanted to participate in its release.

On March 27, Rick contacted former Canim Lake Indian Band Chief Mike Archie because the eagle was going to be released on Canim Lake territory. The two held a ceremony before releasing the bird into the wild.

Rick is happy he was able to contribute to a positive outcome.

“It just meant so much because, as First Nations, we really hold the eagles in high regard in our culture,” said Gilbert.

Listen to the full interview here:

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