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Rescuers dangling from crane finally free eaglet trapped by fishing line

Wildlife News

They have the bird! Wildlife experts Jeff Kreiger, left, and co-rescuer David Hancock bring tangled eaglet, Flyer, into the basket of a crane, nearly 35 metres above the ground in North Saanich Thursday. Then they loosened a fishing line looped around Flyer’s toe — a predicament from which the young bird could not escape in its nest high atop a dead evergreen tree.

Photograph by: Lyle Stafford, Times Colonist, May 19, 2011

Flyer, the eaglet that got its leg caught on a fishing line inside a nest, is free again after a dramatic rescue Thursday.

Two wildlife experts went up nearly 35 metres in a crane’s basket to untangle the line from the bird, which would have died without help.

Read the rest of the story and view the video and other pictures here:

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Crisis averted: eaglet survives intervention

Wildlife News



Read the online story here:

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Sidney Eaglet Rescue

Wildlife News


Hancock here:  Sidney Eaglet Rescue -  May 19

Some days go well, others not so well.  Today was superb.

Yesterday was exciting, full of hope and promise but ended with Donald/Flyer, the Sidney eaglet chick, still caught by a nylon fish line in his nest.    By 6:45 this AM, already having received two calls of further assistance, I again felt the well of optimism.

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David on his way to Sidney nest!

Wildlife News


11:46 am



David, Richard and Karen are on the 11:00 am ferry!  Richard is going to attempt to broadcast live, from the ferry, IF the signal is strong enough.

So keep an eye on the home page video player! NOW!

All things being equal, the "mats" for the crane are supposed to arrive on site at 12:30 pm and the crane at 2:00 pm. Richard will attempt to broadcast live and, of course, we may be able to see something from the cams.

There will be someone from WildARC there as well.


David is taking the11:00 am ferry to Sidney arriving there just before 1:00 pm

Someone has seen the newscast and donated the mats required for an attempt to use the crane to access the nest.  It will take awhile to get the mats in place before the crane arrives at 2 p.m.

Bear in mind that it still has to be detemined if "operation mats" is feasible.

There will be updates if and when they come up! 

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David to be interviewed on CFAX 1070

Wildlife News

David will be interviewed on: 

CFAX 1070 AM, THURSDAY, 8:45 a.m. - 9:00 a.m, with Al Ferraby.  

Listen live here:


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Helicopter Eagle Rescue Aborted

Wildlife News

May 18, 2011

NORTH SAANICH - It's lunchtime Wednesday in the world famous North Saanich eagle nest, and the good news for bird lovers watching on webcam around the world is the eaglet on the far left is being fed, keeping strong, while its leg is tangled in what appears to be fishing line or wire.

On Tuesday, David Hancock, who runs the webcam flew in for a closer look, trying to get a fix on how seriously the baby bird was hurt. Hancock would usually be able to reach the nest with a crane and free the eaglet himself but not this time.

A crane operator stopped by the site on Sunday, but after all the recent rainfall it was determined the ground was simply too wet and too soft to accommodate the weight of a crane.

To see the video report use the link below:

A-Channel, Victoria

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Hancock here: Sidney Update -- May 18

Wildlife News

Wow -- what a day.  We have not yet solved Donald's/Flyer's problem, but so many people have come forward to offer suggestions and help.  Thanks.

The day started early with a call from Search and Rescue with a helicopter offer of help.  They offered to use the retrieval of Donald/Flyer as a training session.  Wonderful.  The various approvals from the landowner and the Ministry of Environment were quickly forthcoming.  Then various media offered to get us to the site.   Our intent as most of you know is too free Donald's leg from the fish line and leave him in the nest.  If he has some serious damage that prevents leaving him there he will be taken to WildArc Rescue Center nearby for treatment.

As we were departing for the ferry a call came in saying the helicopter was not going to be available.  All plans quickly had to change.  What next.  The momentum was too high to quit. 

More calls were placed to the crane owner to re-evaluate the 4 days of dry weather and see if the land was already drying out. Then came the offer, from Alberta of large mats to lay down on the damp soil to hold up the 45 T truck.  First the offer was at $180 per hour -- at probably 3 days of expense, this was quite high.  Two hours later the same company called back to say they would donate the mats but we had to get them from Alberta or Dawson Creek, BC to Victoria.  Cam we get such a delivery?  This is still being worked on.

Then after discussion with our local Lafarge Cement manager, the one overseeing the Lafarge Bald Eagle Nest cams, it seemed possible they might have mats in Victoria.  Three hours later came the call they did not have any such thing in Victoria.  Before the conversation was over the local manager was going to try and track down mats in Vancouver and we would see about getting them to Victoria -- tomorrow.    Hey Donald/Flyer -- hang in there we are still working on this.

Then came another call that if we got the appropriate political intervention that the Joint Rescue Coordination Center might intervene and re-authorize the Air Rescue Helicopter.  Then a call from one of the Victoria regional district Mayors to say he would try and work miracles.  Let's face it few people or animals have delivered such publicity to Victoria and the Sidney area as have this famous Eagle family.  So getting regional support seems possible.  I am all the time wondrous of the support our eagles have.  Maybe tonight or early AM I will hear about the Lafarge result in finding the necessary mats (or maybe some other company has them?) or perhaps the helicopter will come through.

Then minutes ago came another call from Montreal -- yes, the second call of support today from Montreal -- to offer suggestions. A fellow fixed wing pilot with a helicopter rating said he was forced to call me in fear his wife would not forgive him if he did not make the suggestions directly to me that he had made to her -- she being a devoted Sidney Cam watcher!  His experience said a balloon was the best option - a suggestion also offered by others.  My trouble on this is I know of no balloon owners-operators.  He was adamant that balloons were readily anchored and more stable a platform than helicopters. Perhaps, but I have never even been in one.  Does anyone in the Victoria area know of a supportive balloon operator?

So there we sit. Donald, or Flyer to the Sidney Elementary school kids who named him, is still a prisoner of the fish line and I have not succeeded in getting him free.  Maybe I should not have named our eaglet, who had displayed bullying tactics towards his sibling, after Donald Trump.  Then perhaps Mr. Trump might have sent one of his helicopters to help in the rescue! 

Perhaps tomorrow the sun will continue to shine and dry out the ground so our regular crane can again get on this site. And perhaps Lafarge or someone will have the necessary mats to go under the crane.  In the meantime we are all wishing Donald/Flyer the best.  He is getting some food from the parents and seems to be tolerating the weather without much brooding.  Hang in there Donald and we will hope more resources will become available tomorrow.

Much thanks.

David Hancock

P.S.  For new viewers, we have not sent a climber up the tree because the dead tree is simply not safe.  Using a crane with the bucket hanging down has enabled me to access the nest and cams each year.  Our problem is that this spring has simply been one of record precipitation and the ground will not yet support the large crane.

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David Interviewed by Mike Smyth on CKNW AM 980

Wildlife News

David discusses Donald/Flyer's predicament with Mike Smyth on Tuesday, May 17, at 2:23 pm.

To listen to the 5 minute segment, go to the CKNW Audio Vault here:

Audio Vault

Enter the time and date: Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 2:00 pm.

When the player comes up, you can fast forward the slider to the 23 minute mark to hear what he has to say!


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