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AVC Wildlife Service to release two bald eagles on October 13

In honour of of the late Dr. Helene Van Doninck
| Atlantic Veterinary College

Members of the public are welcome to attend the release of two juvenile bald eagles by the Atlantic Veterinary College’s Wildlife Service on Saturday, October 13, at 2 p.m., at Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project in Orwell, P.E.I. Prior to the release of the eagles, there will be a Mi’kmaq smudging ceremony and drumming.

Both eagles spent a month at AVC under the care of the College’s Wildlife Service before going 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, also a young one, was found on July 24 in North Bedeque, P.E.I., 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 is honouring 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 the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s Humane Award for her dedication to caring for injured wildlife.

Should the weather be inclement, the release will take place on Sunday, October 14, at the same time and place.


Anna MacDonald
AVC External Relations Officer
Atlantic Veterinary College
(902) 566-6786

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