2015 Year in Review: Jordan Herring, Former Wildlife Rehabilitation Intern

It’s time to look back on 2015! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2015 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

My time at the Wildlife Center of Virginia was nearing a close when 2015 started. With only three months left in my rehabilitation internship, in the dead of winter, I wasn’t expecting anything too exciting to happen. Now, you would think that I would know better after working for this organization for almost a year because there is never a dull moment at the Wildlife Center. My year in review is about something that we, as employees, don’t get to do very often -- go on a wildlife rescue!

The majority of our patients we treat at the Center get delivered to us from the public. We try as hard as we can to get the person who found the injured or orphaned animal to bring it to the Center because we just do not have the time to rescue each individual patient on our own. If the person who finds the animal can’t bring it to us, we turn to our amazing volunteer transporters to pick up the animal and deliver it to us. But finally, it was my chance to go on a rescue.

On January 28, 2015, a man from Stuarts Draft came to the Center and said that there was a Bald Eagle on his property that was not flying off when he approached it. Because his property was a short drive away, I was asked to follow him back to his home and attempt to capture the eagle myself. I was ecstatic! I finally had the opportunity to go on a rescue that I had been dreaming about since the day I started.

I grabbed all of the materials that I thought I would need and we decided that my co-worker, Billy, should come with me in case I needed an extra hand. After a short drive to the property, we hopped out of the car and found the eagle right where the man had left him. The bird was perching on the ground right next to a woodpile. Since the eagle had not moved I figured that it would be an easy capture, but I was wrong! When I got within six feet of it, it hopped/flapped off into the woods. After about four attempts to capture it, with Billy’s help herding it in my direction, I was able to throw the net on top of the eagle and restrain it. When I picked it up I knew immediately what was wrong with it. The bird was lethargic and didn’t have any obvious injuries, so I knew that it was most likely suffering from lead poisoning. Sadly, lead poisoning is something that we are used to seeing with eagles and vultures due to them scavenging on kills that have been shot with lead ammunition.

We rushed the eagle back to the Center and the veterinary staff started examining it immediately. After testing to see how much lead was in the eagle’s system, we knew that it had a very grave prognosis. At one point during the exam the eagle’s heartbeat stopped, but Dr. Meghan, our veterinary intern, was able to resuscitate the bird back to life. Sadly, after a lot of hard work by our veterinary team, the eagle passed away. It was a tough blow, but we all knew that we did our best to try and give this patient a second chance.

Even though this eagle did pass away, it did not die in vain. We posted this story on our website the next day and it began to get a lot of attention. We even had a local news station come onsite to interview me about what had happened and how something like this could be prevented in the future. I like to believe that something good came out of this sad and preventable situation. Even if one person came across this eagle’s story and decided to not use lead products when hunting or fishing, I count that as a success for wildlife.

--Jordan

Keep checking the Wildlife Center's blog for more year-end posts this week!