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"Our Eagle" brings group together in rescue effort

COLTONS POINT, MD - Harsh realities are being met with a newfound perspective for a Coltons Point man after a bald eagle has been euthanized despite the efforts of a passionate group of citizens.  

On the morning of Nov. 26, Mike Hutson of Coltons Point noticed a struggling bald eagle with a damaged wing outside his window. Armed with a pair of gloves, a blanket, and some prior animal rescue experience, Hutson attempted to capture the eagle. Even with an injured wing, the eagle proved to be difficult to catch at first, flying away before Hutson could get close. 

The following day, sightings from concerned neighbors helped Hutson and an officer from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) locate the eagle and capture it safely. 

With the eagle under the care of Hutson, he contacted Dave Edwards a certified animal rescue professional of Gentle Hands Wildlife Services to plan their next move. A visit to All Kinds Veterinary Hospital and a set of X-rays confirmed no broken bones but showed evidence of a healed flesh wound constricting the eagle's muscles and tendons on it's wing. Although there is no way of knowing for sure, experts believe the injury occurred during flight. "The eagle apparently ran into a guide wire or some type of rope cutting it's right wing in the elbow joint." says Edwards. 

Hutson received some discouraging news when the eagle's future was brought up. Due to an agreement between the veterinarian and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, the eagle had to be sent to an approved federal rescue center such as the Tri-State Animal Rescue Center of Newark, DE. According to the vet, the eagle's chances were bleak. "It was kind of discouraging to be honest...When Dave (Edwards) and I have all this passion to try and save the bird, they're talking about where he's going, he'll ultimately be euthanized," says Hutson. 

Determined to find an alternative to euthanasia, Hutson researched rehab centers and reached out on social media in hopes finding a center where the rehabilitated eagle could benefit others. "I was on a mission. I needed to find an educational facility that will take this injured, national symbol so another person can come as close as I was to it and somehow learn more about this magnificent animal." says Hutson. 

Hutson's research led him to the Auburn College of Veterinarian Medicine in Auburn, AL, which has a history of rehabilitating bald eagles for non-release. However, Hutson's enthusiasm was quickly met by red tape as he found out how difficult it was going to be transporting the highly regulated animal. "No one wanted anything to do with transporting it at all. It was amazing how fast the roadblocks went up," says Hutson. Following several leads, Hutson came in contact with Officer Bruce Corley of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Corley thanked Hutson for his efforts in rescuing the eagle but said that due to rules and regulations, the eagle had to go to Tri-State Animal Rescue. 

With the possibility of euthanasia lingering, Hutson arranged for Edwards to transport the eagle to Tri-State Animal Rescue on Friday, Dec. 1. "With that information, we did what we had to do. We followed the rules and the bird got to Tri-State," said Hutson.

The group tried to remain hopeful and sent out updates for those following the story on Facebook. Unfortunately, on Dec. 2, an emotional Hutson told TheBayNet.com that the eagle had been euthanized the night before. 

Disappointed in the overall outcome of his mission and the fate of a patriotic symbol that he and many members of his community became invested in, Hutson received a change in perspective from Susan Shumaker of Owl Moon Animal Rescue who argued that it was better to euthanize a bird who knew freedom than to have it stuck in an educational facility. "She really opened my eyes and refocused my passion to understanding," says Hutson. 

Hutson said he feels proud of himself and of all the individuals who helped give the eagle a chance to live, "At least we did something...he didn't die hungry and in the woods." One regret Hutson expressed was never settling on a name for the eagle. On social media, he referred to it as "Our Eagle," an appropriate name for an animal that brought together many under a common goal. 


Be sure to check out the gallery below for more pictures of "Our Eagle"  shared with TheBayNet.com by Mr. Mike Hutson and Mr. Dave Edwards.

For more information on Gentle Hands Wildlife Service visit: 

https://www.facebook.com/Gentle-Hands-Wildlife-Services-293504874146316/

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