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Two young eagles fly free again!

Honouring the late Dr. Helene Van Doninck, AVC Class of 1991
Thursday, October 18, 2018
One of two juvenile eagles released on October 13. Photo: Jordi Segers

Before an audience of over 100 people, two juvenile eagles stretched their wings and flew off into the sky at the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project on Saturday, October 13, in Orwell, P.E.I. Prior to the release of the eagles, Mi’kmaq Elder Junior Peter-Paul led a smudging and drumming ceremony.

After they were found unable to fend for themselves, both juvenile eagles received primary veterinary treatment at the AVC Wildlife Service and then were sent to the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Nova Scotia for rehabilitation

One eagle was found in a field in Orwell on June 19, unable to fly. The young eagle possibly left the nest early because of strong winds. Students and staff built a nest in the flight cage where the bird spent its first few weeks, eating and recovering from its ordeal. Eventually it left the nest and explored the perches in the enclosure. After a month, it was transported to Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre to interact with other eagles and gain flight muscle strength in the “Big Jeezley,” the centre’s huge oval flight cage.

The other eagle was found on July 24 in North Bedeque, Prince County, with a stick protruding from either side of one of its wings. The stick was removed by Dr. Peter Moak, small animal surgeon at AVC, and the bird was treated with antibiotics and pain medication. It is thought that the eagle was probably still learning how to fly when it had a mishap, resulting in the stick being driven into its wing. After receiving medical care at AVC for a month, it also was taken to the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre where it continued its rehabilitation.

In releasing these two eagles, the AVC Wildlife Service paid tribute to the late Dr. Helene Van Doninck, AVC Class of 1991. During her veterinary career, she dedicated her life to caring for injured, sick, and orphaned wildlife. She and her husband, Murdo Messer, established the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in 2001. In addition to her remarkable record as a veterinarian, Dr. Van Doninck passed on her knowledge and expertise in the care of wildlife to AVC students. In April, she was presented with AVC’s Award of Excellence in Veterinary Medicine and Animal Care, and in July with the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s Humane Award for her dedication to caring for wildlife.

Click here to read CBC's coverage and here to read The Guardian's story.

Anna MacDonald
AVC External Relations Officer
Atlantic Veterinary College
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