Months later, an injured eagle rescued by a tow truck driver is set free

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 4:53 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An eagle that was rescued by a tow truck driver is flying free after several months of rehabilitation at Anchorage’s Bird Treatment and Learning Center.

Elite Towing and Recovery driver Brian Garst spotted the bird in a snowy field near mile 80 of the Park’s highway in mid-April. After receiving permission from Alaska Wildlife troopers, Garst bundled the bird in his coat, put it in his truck and drove to get help.

Veterinarians were most concerned about the bird’s eye that appeared to be damaged. They worried the eagle wouldn’t be able to hunt and might have to be put down. But three months later, the eagle was pronounced ready for release.

“She is as feisty as ever,” said Bird TLC Acting Director Maggie McConkey. “She’s a strong flyer, she has adequate vision so she should be able to hunt just fine, so she’s ready.”

Garst was invited to join the group releasing the bird at Kashwitna Lake north of Willow, not far from where he found it back in April. He opened the dog kennel and the bird walked out before eventually taking flight.

Garst said the release was especially meaningful because he had lost his father shortly before Christmas and was eager to give another living thing a second chance.

“That eagle is a special bird,” Garst told his young son Andrew as they watched it soar. “She has a second chance on life and that’s a very, very touching thing to remember. Don’t ever take life for granted because you don’t get second chances like she does.”

As the eagle took off, McConkey said the bird appeared to be doing just fine.

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