May 4, 2000
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana
Ken Wolfe, Grounded Eagle Foundation founder, giving a talk. Pathfinder file photo
So far, twelve injured bald eagles from Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, have been airlifted to Grounded Eagle Foundation (GEF) in Condon. Six have been rehabilitated, returned to Alaska, and released. Four more are due to return to the north country later this month. Seven more are on their way down from Alaska. These eagles have endured some strange injuries including one that swallowed a sixteen penny (3 3/4") nail, another that lost an encounter with a porcupine, and another with a severe gunshot wound to its beak and face. Most eagles admitted for care at GEF have suffered traumatic injuries from vehicle collisions from throughout western Montana. Over the past fifteen years, GEF has rehabilitated some 200 injured eagles, over a ton in collective weight, at a ratio of two bald eagles per one golden eagle. The facility in Sitka admits 50-60 injured bald eagles annually, from throughout southeastern Alaska.
This unique long distance rehabilitation of injured bald eagles will continue for about another year as the facility in Sitka is rebuilt following collapse caused by a late winter storm a year ago. Reconstruction is scheduled to begin during September, 2000. The GEF facility in Condon is one of the largest in the nation (11,000 square feet encompassing a quarter-million cubic feet of treatment and recovery space), and the only facility of its kind in Montana and surrounding states that meets or exceeds minimum care standards recently adopted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in order to rehabilitate eagles and other large raptors. GEF founder Ken Wolff served on a national committee in the late 80s and early 90s to write the guidelines recently adopted by FWS. During this period the Condon facility was designed and constructed to exceed those very guidelines.
With fishing season only a few days off, the folks at GEF would readily accept any rough/trash/non-game fish species that fisherfolks do not want. With sometimes as many as fifteen bald eagles in care at one time, hundreds of pounds of fish are welcomed. Local non-game fish species include suckers and pikeminnows (formerly known as squawfish). As Grounded Eagles accepts all wild bird species for care, please call 754-2880 should you find an injured wild bird. All wild bird species, excepting rock doves (pigeons), starlings and English sparrows are protected by federal law; the same laws protect eggs, feathers, and nests.
The most appropriate response for a baby bird that has fallen from its nest is to place it back into the nest. Most bird species have a very limited sense of smell and will not readily abandon babies handled by humans. In many cases the parent birds will continue to feed the baby while it is on the ground, tumbling from nests being a common danger as the babies try to learn to fly.
GEF founder Ken Wolff, a native of the Condon area, has been a federally and state licensed wild bird rehabilitator since 1983, incorporating Grounded Eagle Foundation as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 1988. Grounded Eagle receives no tax moneys, but is supported by individual sponsors, fund raisers, and foundation grants.
Wolff has presented eleven professional papers concerning raptor rehabilitation at international symposia, and one paper on woodpeckers. Wolff served on the board of directors of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, a professional organization of 1500 members worldwide, from 1992-1996.