Wildlife rehabilitator

Bald Eagle Rescue June 14, 2021

Sunday around 6 pm I got the call that an eagle was down at Lily Point….
So off I go to investigate…
 
I am so angry… this is the 4th eagle I’ve rescued in 6 months, and again this eagles broke its pelvis bone after crashing into who knows what, due to lead poisoning.
Yes BC allows and sells lead ammo, a neurotoxin that will kill an eagle in hours if not taken in for treatment.
 
We took lead out of paint and gas decades ago, but don’t try to tell a hunter or mainstream media reporter, for they still defend its use.
 
BC has 1800 endangered species, their cutting down the last 3% of old-growth forests, BCgov is insane and like the US it really doesn’t matter which party is in power…. the lack of consciousness is staggering
😡😡😡😡😡
Jeff Butts, Director of Eagle Skyenet
 

Lead is a dangerous metal that can poison humans and wildlife; A fragment the size of a grain of rice is enough to kill an eagle.

Article from Orphaned Wildlife, www.owlrehab.org

Wildlife Rehabilitation facilities across the world see many cases of lead poisoning each year in many different species. The leading causes are due to the ingestion of fragments left from lead ammunition and fishing tackle. Fragments can be left behind in entrails and carcasses left in the field by people, in which raptors and other wildlife scavenge. Waterfowl, such as swans, geese, and ducks, dabble up lead fishing weights lost by fishermen or historic lead, which they mistake as pebbles and loons, osprey, and other fish-eating predators can ingest it from fish they consume. In turn, this poisons them and any predators who may eat them.

Using lead to hunt waterfowl has been banned since the mid 90’s, yet the same dangerous material is still widely used for upland game birds, target shooting/vermin, and large game.

Many major ammunition and fishing tackle companies do offer non-lead
ammunition and fishing tackle. The alternatives have been widely tested and are proven to make a similar impact.

 

Symptoms

If a raptor is poisoned by lead, they can be more prone at being hit by vehicles, hitting windows and other objects, and not be able to find food. If you find a downed raptor acting abnormally, please call OWL immediately.

Lead is a neurotoxin that affects all species, humans included. Symptoms of lead poisoning exhibit in various ways, such as loss of coordination, inability to stand, blindness, respiratory issues, etc.

Getting to Know Jeff Butts – Director of Eagle Skyenet

Determined to Change the Way We Look at Our Sacred Bald Eagles

Sometimes in life, things come to you, rather than you seeking them out. 

Have you ever felt that way? 

Something you happened upon? 

The next thing you know, you are completely enveloped and committed to a certain thing… or way of life. When you look back, you realize this was meant to be. Like you were born for this very moment in life. 

Many years ago, Mother Nature called Jeff Butts into the care and protection of Bald Eagles. The call was so strong, he couldn’t say “NO” if he wanted to. 

Maybe his story will encourage you to move forward with your call? The one you have pushed aside for fear you didn’t hear it right? Or thought it was too hard to do. 

We hope Jeff’s story will encourage you to band together with Eagle SkyeNet, Non-Profit 501(c)(3) to increase environmental awareness, reconnect with Mother Nature by understanding eagle habitat and, why it needs protecting. Learn how our failures in these protections lead to the need for us to rescue bald eagles and care for them for months in rehabilitation and release programs across the country 

Learning About Raptor Protector and Eagle Lover, Jeff Butts

 

Jeff, age 8, ….

Jeff Butts grew up in the Pacific Northwest and spent his summers and holidays at his family’s vacation home in Point Robers, WA.

He always had a keen sense of awareness for his surroundings experiencing nature and all it offers.  Noticing and appreciating the land, sea, and sky.

Appreciating the land, sea, and sky

Question: Tell me about your pet duck. Why a duck? Were you always fond of birds? 

Answer: I was always captivated by raptors, and my dad was a duck hunter, and hunting was part of my family, though I never had any interest in it. The pet duck was totally random, which was pretty rare for my parents. They knew someone on a farm and so one day they brought this duck home, and I was imprinted by the duck and it would follow me and of course, I’d hang out with it all the time. My parents soon realized that a duck is messy, and one day I came home from school and the duck was gone. My parents told me it had to fly south for the winter. I guess you could say that was my first heartbreaking experience, I was 7 years old.

Although Jeff spent his childhood and summers in Point Roberts, he didn’t see his first bald eagle until he was 23.

Question: What is your first memory of seeing an eagle? You gave me a picture of the tree. What is the significance of the tree? When you saw the bird, what did you think and feel? 

Jeff, age 23, seeing an eagle for the first time.

Answer: The first time I saw a bald eagle, I was at my parent’s beach house on the 4th of July. I was standing just above the beach looking across my aunt’s lawn, who lived next door when I saw this huge shadow moving across her lawn towards me. At first, I was confused at what could make such a shadow, and as I slowly looked up there was an adult bald eagle 15 feet above my head, flying directly above me.

It was like a bolt of lightning struck me, and my first thought was to get a picture of the eagle, so I ran into the house, grabbed a little Kodak Instamatic, and took off running down the beach trying to catch up. The eagle landed in the tree some 200 yards east of our house. 

Jeff as a baby in Point Roberts. Little did he know the tree behind him would be where he sees his first eagle in years to come.

But, as I got within 100 yards the eagle took off and was quickly gone. Though slightly disappointed at not getting a picture of the eagle, the excitement and energy the eagle stirred inside me would last the rest of my life.

A defining moment in Jeff’s life…

Jeff internalizing his eagle experiences.

As he says “it was like a bolt of lightning struck me…” An encounter he’d never forget… A sign of the future. But it would take him many years to fully realize it. Jeff moved to California and so would internalize this experience, and would only briefly see an eagle a couple of times in the next 20 years.

Question: Tell me about the first connection you had with an eagle – I know you have many. But, maybe the most poignant. 

Answer: It was April of 2000 and I just got a new video camera and went off to Shadow Cove to see if I could film some eagles. When I got there I saw an adult eagle perched in a tree about 15-20 feet off the ground. 

At this point in my life, I’d only seen eagles maybe 10 times, and usually, they’d be flying away, or fly away once I got within 500 feet or so. I was only about 200 feet from this eagle in the tree. It was at this point that I tapped into some intuitive state of how to behave and not scare the eagle away. I went through a handful of actions and slowly got closer to the eagle, maybe only 100 feet away at this point. I set up my tripod and got some footage, and then thought, well I’ve got this close, I might as well see if my newly developed nonverbal communications could get me even closer. So I slowly moved closer, stopped, and just let my instincts take over as I continued to move closer in a non-threatening manner. 

.

So to my complete astonishment, I found myself standing at the base of the tree the eagle was perched in looking straight up at him, and only about 10 feet above my head, this eagle gazed right down into my eyes. I had this dazzling type of feeling inside my head, and I just stood there looking up into the eagle’s eyes, and after what could have been 2 minutes or 5, I remembered I had the camera in my hand, so I raised it and filmed the eagle right above me… And then I got the feeling that it was time for me to go, so I put my hand on the tree trunk and looked up to think goodbye to the eagle. I slowly turned around and walked away, and that warm glowing feeling I felt in my head lasted for weeks. It was one of the most vivid and inspirational days I’ve ever experienced.

Obviously, with an experience so profound, Jeff had more questions than he did answers. How did he get so close? Why didn’t the eagle fly away? Has anyone else had this experience? Mother Nature gave him a gift to communicate and walk right up to eagles without them having any fear. How is this possible? Why are there now eagles where they’d never been while Jeff was growing up?

Jeff had no idea how hard it would be to answer these questions, but it was just the challenge that he needed in his life. Every time Jeff went to seek knowledge about eagles, they responded by revealing more and more about their lives and getting closer and closer to him. Jeff didn’t know it yet but he was well on his way towards getting to know these eagles… recognize each one… relate with them on an intuitive level. Know their calls, their behaviors, their mannerisms. To become one with them.

Question: When did you first learn about the plight of the eagle? 

The majestic eagle enjoying a scarce meal

Answer: In 2007 I was researching eagles and was only finding the most basic information about them. I saw the CBS evening news one night and they were interviewing Frank Isaacs near Corvallis Oregon. Frank Isaacs is one of the top eagle experts in the U.S. and ran the Bald Eagle Monitoring program in Oregon from 1978 to 2007. I contacted Frank and he said he was giving a talk in Portland and I could meet him there. Frank’s PowerPoint talk opened my eyes to the true history of eagles in the United States.

Question: When and how did you decide that you would make it your life’s work to help the Bald Eagle? 

Answer: From 2007 to 2011 I was getting to know the eagle better and saw that most people knew nothing about eagles and that often they were being disturbed and laws protecting them were being ignored either out of spite, but mostly out of ignorance. I saw they needed help and had seen an example from Frank Isaacs of how to educate people about them, and so in 2012, I formed Eagle SkyeNet to raise awareness about eagles.

Question: How did you decide to focus on the Bald Eagle and not the Golden Eagle? 

Answer: It’s as simple as the fact that I live in bald eagle habitat, and golden eagles live in a different habitat with different food sources.

Question: Who helped you, guided you, taught you, mentored you along the way? 

Answer: There were 3 people who I spent a lot of time with, Frank Isaacs, Eagle biologist from Oregon, David Hancock a wildlife biologist and Canada’s top eagle expert; and Jeff Guidry and his eagle Freedom, who had broken wings and could never fly, but became an educational bird and lived in an aviary. Of course, the eagles themselves have shown me everything experts have documented, plus so much more.

Question: Tell me about the first time you captured an injured Bald Eagle. 

Jeff with Frank Isaacs, Eagle biologist from Oregon,

Answer: It was in 2013, and a photographer friend called me and said there was a young eagle on the ground at his mother’s house on Camano Island. So I went there to see what was up with the eagle and if it needed help. 

I called David Hancock and told him of the situation, and he instructed me to determine if the eagle could fly. So I chased the eagle for 20 to 30 feet and it merely ran on the ground and didn’t even try to fly. The young eaglet had fallen out of the nest the night some neighbors were setting off fireworks near the nest. The eaglet was panicked, and even though the parents were bringing it food on the ground, it was expending way too much energy moving around. I was told that it was illegal for me to rescue the eagle and so I had to wait for a state wildlife officer to come and capture the eagle and take it to Sarvey wildlife center, the same place as Freedom and Jeff Guidry was from. The only problem was the officer said he couldn’t make it until the next day. 

Here is Blue, an eaglet that fell out of the nest after consumer fireworks went off by its nest. I was called to rescue this eaglet.
Even though we rescued Blue, it had been 4-5 days out of the nest. It was illegal for me to pick up the eaglet and take it to a rehab center, so I had to spend the night with this eaglet because a Wildlife Official couldn’t make it until the next day.
Even though the parents brought food, the eaglet expended too much energy walking around.
Blue was scooped up into the nest, then flattened into the back of a pickup and taken over an hour’s drive to Sarvey Wildlife Center, where Blue died four days later.

So here was this helpless eaglet on the ground, and coyotes were in the area, and so I spent the night in a Gulfstream trailer on the property, a couple 100 feet from the eaglet, listening for coyotes. About 3 in the morning I could hear the coyotes, but they never got closer than a ½ mile away… thank god. It was a terrible and helpless feeling and I was determined never to feel that way again. The next day the officer showed up, and I helped him capture the eaglet, and off it went to rehab. I got a call 3 days later telling me the eaglet had died. It had been left out too long and expended too much energy to the point where feeding it wasn’t enough, the eagle’s metabolism had already started consuming itself.  That was a very hard day, I was angry, crushed, and helpless all at the same time.

Question: Tell me about the first release of a rehabbed eagle you helped. 

Reveling in the release of a rehabbed injured eagle

Answer: A friend of mine was driving up a hill in Point Roberts and saw an eagle in a drainage ditch. I went to investigate and sure enough, an adult eagle was standing in shallow water in the ditch beside the road. I approached carefully and the eagle didn’t try to fly or move at all. I called OWL and said I had an eagle needing rescuing. Because the eagle was only 5 feet from the road, I stayed about 30 feet away and talked to the eagle, and was ready to intervene,  and if a car came by I made the car get in the far lane. I just kept telling the eagle that he was going to be ok and that help was on the way. A juvenile eagle came and landed in the tree right above us, to offer his support. This went on for about 90 minutes before the OWL volunteer arrived. We got the eagle into the net, and I helped wrap a blanket around its wings, and then duct tape, to immobilize its wings so it won’t injure itself further.

It turns out the eagle had been electrocuted, and luckily it had a fish in its talon that took most of the voltage, as 90% of eagles electrocuted died instantly. This adult still had a patch of brown feathers in its all-white head. (eagles don’t get white head and tail feathers until they are 5). I named the eagle Shadow and I had just taken a picture of it the week before several miles from where it is now. After 4-5 months of rehab, Shadow was released by the boundary marker in Maple Beach. It was a beautiful summer day and over 130 people were there to witness Shadow’s release. It was a beautiful moment, but the next spring I was over at South Beach at low tide, and suddenly an adult eagle flew to me and landed on a big rock 10 feet away from me. I had my camera with me and framed the eagle in my viewfinder, and noticed the dark patch of feathers in its white head. It was Shadow, coming to thank me once more for rescuing him. That was one magical moment where an eagle displayed its intelligence and awareness, by recognizing and acknowledging its rescuer nearly a year later.

Question: What do you want people to know about you?

Answer: Mostly that I’m someone who’s has a unique relationship with eagles, and I’ve been able to document the lives of eagles with videos and pictures in a way that nobody to my knowledge has done before. 

Question: What do you want people to know about the eagle? 

Answer: Well the fact that most people don’t know anything about eagles, and how intelligent and aware they are. So to learn about eagles one needs to have an open mind. In the mainstream media and on the internet there is a lot of misinformation about eagles. They are mythical creatures to most people, but if you take the time to get to know them it can be a very rewarding and moving experience.

Intelligent and aware of their surroundings.

Question: If you had 10 minutes on national TV with everyone watching, what would you say? 

Answer: The bald eagle is the symbol of our country, yet for most of the 20th Century eagles were persecuted and blamed for many things they weren’t responsible for, like the decline in salmon populations. Bald eagles went from a population of over 500,000 or more to less than 1,000 by 1963. In 1978 we made a concerted effort to finally protect them and respect their nesting trees and surrounding habitat. 

From 1978 to 2007 the eagles were able to recover to about 20% of their historic numbers. So now eagles have reached carrying capacity. In other words, they have filled up the traditional habitats across the country, and now must try and nest in more urban and unsafe areas. 

Up here in the Salish Sea, there are well over 100 endangered species, and salmon runs are only at 4-6% of historic levels. Climate change is projected to wipe out up to 40% of eagle habitat over the next 20 years. 

The bald eagle has proved that if we stop destructive activities and respect the wild places in this world, eagles and all of nature will recover. We just need to find the will to do it and listen to those who know how it should be done. 

Question: How many eagles do you monitor today? 

Answer: I monitor about 10 active breeding pairs and about 5 miles of shoreline where up to 300 eagles can be seen patrolling and playing in small groups. 

Question: What do you watch or pay attention to? 

Answer: I divide my time between watching the resident pairs territories, and watching the juvenile eagles in the common areas.

Question: What is the biggest struggle in helping eagles? 

Answer: Getting people to understand enough about eagles to have empathy for them.

Question: What is the greatest reward? 

Answer: To have wild eagles recognize me, follow me, and fly around me to the point where any cares or depression I might be feeling is just melted away and I feel inspired the rest of the day

Question: Is there hope for the growth and maintenance of the Eagle population in the US? 

Answer: The reality is that there is a mass extinction in progress, and the current political climate is not favorable for eagles or the wider ecosystems that we all depend on. Eagles get 70% of their diet from fish, and 30% from shorebirds. Shorebirds have lost 70-90% of their populations. This is why we are seeing more and more eagles at landfills, where they can get the food we throw away.

Let’s work together to save our precious bald eagle.

Our local raptor center is seeing unprecedented numbers of injured, poisoned, and electrocuted bald eagles. I’ve noticed a big increase in territory fights, as suitable habitat isn’t available for new adults trying to establish a home, so they fight with eagles who do have homes.

Our local raptor center is seeing unprecedented numbers of injured, poisoned, and electrocuted bald eagles. I’ve noticed a big increase in territory fights, as suitable habitat isn’t available for new adults trying to establish a home, so they fight with eagles who do have homes.

Question: How can average citizens help the Bald Eagle? 

Answer: Begin by taking the time to learn about how they live in this world and how to respect their space. If you live near eagles, learn how not to disturb them and to help educate others who might be inadvertently making their lives harder. 

Also learn to recognize when an eagle might need help, and who to contact when they do. Most major eagle populations have raptor rehabilitation centers close by, so find the one in your area as they will be a great resource for information and help. 

Donate to organizations that fight for the safety and protection of eagles. Along with capturing injured birds to rehabilitate and release them back into the wild.

Just recently, we became a non-profit. Rest assured, at Eagle SkyeNet, Non-Profit 501(c)(3) 100% of your dollars go towards educational awareness, preservation, protection, and rehabilitation of our nation’s bird. 

To learn more about Jeff and his years of hard work helping eagles, watch this interview with Sierra Club chapter chair Olga Bolotina on her show “In the Know.”

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