October 8, 2015 6:43 pm
Updated: October 8, 2015 8:28 pm

Bald eagle found comatose east of Edmonton gets new lease on life

WATCH ABOVE: This story involves a mystery, some human compassion and a chance to fly free. Vinesh Pratap has more on a bald eagle that's been given a new lease on life.

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EDMONTON — A five-year-old male bald eagle is flying free after spending the summer in care.

How it got a new lease on life is a story involving a mystery and human compassion. Back in June, the eagle was discovered two hours east of Edmonton just north of the community of Derwent.

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“It was within actually 50 yards of my house,” says farmer Stacey Rybchinsky. “They actually nest behind my house, there’s a pair of them there.  I believe this is one of them actually.”

Rybchinsky quickly surmised something was wrong with the creature. It was barely moving. Several other family members became involved, and the bird was captured.

The next day, a two-hour trip into the city saw the eagle come into the care of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton.

“We didn’t want to let it die just there,” says Rybchinsky, adding, “it’s hard to watch something suffer and die like that.”

“He came into care practically comatose.”

“He couldn’t even open his eyes,” describes Kim Blomme, the director of Wildlife Services for the society. “His eyes were stuck shut.”

Work quickly got underway to save the eagle, while trying to figure out how it ended up nearly dead.

“We don’t really know specifically what happened, but we’re strongly suspicious that he got into something toxic,” explains Blomme.

The creature slowly regained his strength, but there was another hurdle.  It injured its wing in a pen, which led to additional time in care.

“We feel great.”

But by this week, all was looking well, and society staff and avid bird watchers gathered at Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park for the release of the eagle.  Within seconds, the bald eagle was out of sight.

“I was really surprised that he went that far and all in one flight, so I was quite happy,” a relieved Elizabeth Malta told Global News. Malta is the animal care manager with the Rehabilitation Society.

The hope is the bird will return to the area it was found, once spring returns.

Kim Blomme concludes, “Our goal is to get them back out to the wild again, as if nothing happened.”

© 2015 Shaw Media

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