In September 2015, an injured juvenile Bald Eagle was found on the ground by a park visitor, injured and unable to fly. Parks Canada Resource Conservation staff brought the injured individual to the Atlantic Wildlife Institute (AWI), where Pam Novak and her team were able to assist with the young eagle's recovery.

Recovery

A juvenile Bald Eagle in an aviary at the Atlantic Wildlife Institute
The injured bald eagle, recovering in an aviary at the Atlantic Wildlife Institute, February 23, 2016

At the early stages of the young eagle's recovery, the primary focus for the team at AWI was to hydrate and nourish the bird of prey. Then, an x-ray showed a fracture in the bird's left wing's ulna, near the wrist joint. Because of the stability of the wound and fracture, the juvenile Bald Eagle was able to heal naturally, without the need of surgery.

By February 2016, the young eagle had made significant progress. Thanks to many hours of exercise and physical therapy, the young Eagle was able to fly safely inside the AWI’s aviary. Even though the Eagle could have technically been released back into nature in December 2015, it was decided to hold it off until spring to increase its chances of surviving in its natural habitat. A prolonged stay in AWI’s care also ensured a full recovery and gave the bird of prey even more time to practice flying, perching and maneuvering before being released back into the wild.

Ceremony and Release

A Parks Canada staff member from the local First Nations community of Elsipogtog, playing a drum in a field near a giant wigwam in Kouchibouguac National Park
Parks Canada Interpreter Cody Clair, member of the First Nations Community of Elsipogtog

By the spring of 2016, the eagle was deemed strong enough to be released from the AWI and back into the wild in its home of Kouchibouguac National Park. On June 2, 2016, the juvenile Bald Eagle was transported back to Kouchibouguac National Park, specifically at Callanders Beach, where a special Mi'kmaw ceremony took place.

As the Eagle is still considered an endangered species in the province of New-Brunswick as well as a sacred and significant animal within the Mi’kmaw culture, the full recovery and release of this magnificent bird back into its natural habitat is considered an important ecological and cultural success.

Significance in the Mi'kmaw culture

The Bald Eagle is considered a sacred and very majestic animal. According to Mi’kmaw culture, the Eagle earned these honours as a sacred animal when it was sent to the Creator to carry healing prayers when the people had been affected by a grave illness. As the highest flying bird, the Eagle can hold people’s prayers and bring them to the Creator when help and healing are needed.

Status

The Bald Eagle is considered endangered in the province of New Brunswick and is listed in the Government of New Brunswick Species at Risk Public Registry.

Parks Canada is a recognized world leader in conservation. Through its Conservation and Restoration Program, Parks Canada takes actions to preserve national parks and contribute to the recovery of species-at-risk.

A group photo of all people involved in the recovery of the Bald Eagle, posing near the Wigwam at Kouchibouguac National Park
Members of Parks Canada, the Atlantic Wildlife Institute and Anqotum Resource Management
© Parks Canada / A. Audet

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