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Community bands together to help eagle with claw caught in trap

A bald eagle with its claw caught in steel trap has the local bird watching community working together to try and help the animal. 

A bald eagle sighted several times near Clarenville has a steel trap clamped onto its talons.

The Clarenville landfill has long been a hotspot for eagles and, as a result, birdwatchers often frequent the area to take pictures.

Local bird enthusiast, Shawn Fitzpatrick, says Linda Ryan first made the discovery on Jan. 11.

“It wasn’t until she got home and downloaded that she zoomed in and realized it had a trap attached to its foot,” says Fitzpatrick.

“The next day, I contacted her about them, after she posted to a Facebook bird watching site that we mutually frequent. I started a campaign that has been mounting interest to a growing audience ever since,” he added.

Fitzpatrick contacted wildlife officials and has remained active online keeping people updated on the situation.

Harry White also frequents the Newfoundland bird watching site and was taking photos the following week when he spotted the eagle in a tree.

White and Fitzpatrick have stayed in contact with officials trying to devise a plan to capture the bird and White has been making daily trips to the landfill to see if the eagle is still around.

“I went out Monday (Feb. 1) and it was still out on a post in behind the new waste-management facility,” says White.

He suspects the bird is accustomed to using the site as a feeding ground and stays close to the area.

White spoke with a friend familiar with trapping who identified the trap as a double-spring trap most commonly used for catching otter.

“This trap might have been laid a month ago or it could have been there for years,” he says.

While flying doesn’t seem to be an issue for the eagle, White says the bird does seem to be in considerable distress.

“If you look at the picture that Linda took compared to the one I took on Sunday, its beak seems like it’s cracked and damaged from gnawing at the trap trying to get it off,” says White.

White says he heard wildlife officials are planning to use a net gun brought in from the west coast of the province.

“They will have to set up a baited trap and shoot it with the net to get the device off,” he says.

“Once the eagle is captured, it is just a matter of seconds to get the trap off.”

Connie Boland, communications manager for the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency, says conservation officers have made several trips to the dump, but have yet to see the bird.

“Conservation officers will continue to monitor the situation and will work with the Department of Environment and Conservation, Wildlife Division, to facilitate a capture once an opportunity arises,” she said in a statement.

A GoFundMe setup to raise funds to help the animal has accumulated nearly $800 within its first three hours.

To visit the account, click here.

— with files from CP



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