This young female bald eagle has been recovering at Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society’s (MARS) facility in Merville. File photo/Black Press

MARS puts out call for food for eagles on Vancouver Island

Rescue centre in Merville has now treated more than 20 eagles since new year

It’s been a tough winter for eagles on Vancouver Island, says animal rescue volunteers.

MARS Animal Rescue Centre has put out a call for food to help the birds they are treating. While winter is typically a tough time of year for the birds, this one has been especially harsh. Already since January, the staff and volunteers of the Merville area operation have treated 23 birds, some of which have not made survived.

While the problems have various sources, including vehicle strikes, hunger remains an underlying factor.

“They’re starving,” Jo Stiles, senior caregiver at MARS, told Black Press. “There’s not enough food in the environment for them.”

Unlike last winter, when there was a better early salmon run and more of the birds survived, this year the food sources have been scarce. This has forced the birds to look for alternate sources of food. This includes road kill, which increases the chance the birds can be struck by passing motorists, especially on the highways.

Stiles warns motorists to keep an eye for the birds feeding at the side of the road. Several of the birds brought in had been injured as a result of vehicles. When Black Press visited MARS last month, one young female that had an injured wing is now close to recovering and will be ready for release. Another wasn’t so luck, Stiles said, and just had to be euthanized.

Some eagles have been eating more smaller birds, including some game birds that might, legally or illegally, have been struck with lead shot. This, in turn, can get into the eagles’ systems when they ingest the prey. Again, the eagles are feeding off these birds because of a lack of more typical food sources for them. Many brought in are showing of malnourishment.

RELATED STORY: MARS seeing influx of sick, injured eagles from north part of Vancouver Island

“We’re feeding a lot of them,” Stiles said.

MARS is asking anyone with spare meat to consider donating it to the rescue centre to get them through this tough stretch. An example would be if someone has a spare salmon in their freezer from last year that they might not need.

“In an ideal world it would be deer or elk,” she said. “Fish is a priority.”

However, other meat such as chicken or beef will do too, she added. It should not be freezer burnt or more than two years old though.

“The food value of the meat decreases,” she said.

The herring run should return around mid-February, which will alleviate problems in connection with starvation. Stiles cautions that MARS will still have to deal with eagles that have gotten sick in connection with ingesting lead.

For more information, see http://www.marswildliferescue.com/ or call 250-337-2021.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Online services available at Comox Valley libraries

Since early June, the Vancouver Island Regional Library has been offering ‘takeout’… Continue reading

Comox Valley Regional District board approves $115,000 towards soccer field house project

The Comox Valley Regional District board has approved a $115,000 contribution to… Continue reading

Three active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island

Since July 24, Central island has had five new cases, North one, South none

Comox Valley Horseshoe Society all about friendly competition

Feeling lucky? Do you have horseshoes? The Comox Valley Horseshoe Society is… Continue reading

Fanny Bay residents fed up with problem house

A delegation from Fanny Bay has appealed to regional district directors to… Continue reading

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

More than $800,000 in suspected cocaine seized from ship near Victoria

RCMP Dive Team suspects more narcotics had been stored below ship’s waterline

Most Read