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Tow truck driver rescues injured eagle near mile 80 of the Parks Highway (AK)


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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It probably wasn’t what tow truck driver Brian Gharst expected to see when he pulled off the Parks Highway near mile 80 Monday evening. Gharst was returning from a job in Talkeetna when he stopped to check out a couple of trucks stopped by the side of the road and realized the drivers were looking at an eagle in the snow that wasn’t moving.


Cody Gray, Gharst’s boss at Elite Towing, said he got a call from his driver asking for advice about the bird. Gray said he called Alaska Wildlife Troopers who gave permission to try and rescue the eagle, provided it could be done safely.


Chris Mahoney, one of the onlookers, shot a video of Gharst as he waded in knee-deep snow, gently put his coat over the eagle, then pick it up and carry it back to his tow truck. It never put up a fight. The eagle was taken to the Alaska WildBird Rehabilitation Center in Houston.


“The fact that he was so docile and was sedated and not moving around much is a very big sign that the bird was gravely ill, and definitely needed to come into rehabilitation,” said Avian Director Katie Peterson.


Peterson said the bird appeared to be malnourished, had lice in its feathers and most troubling, an injured eye.

“And that could be the reason that he was looking for food along the side of the road because he just couldn’t see well,” she said.


Caregivers kept the eagle warm overnight and Peterson said, by the next morning, it had perked up considerably, giving hope for recovery.


“I’m very, very grateful that he was rescued because he most assuredly would have died if he’d stayed out there in the cold,” she said. “Not just because it was cold, because something would have found him. He wouldn’t have been able to fight back. He wouldn’t have been able to get off the ground, and that’s just a death sentence to birds, just being on the ground and being vulnerable like that.”


The eagle has since been transferred to the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage where he will receive further treatment. It was reported in stable condition Wednesday afternoon.



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