Persistent good Samaritan helps get injured eagle treatment

PARKLAND, Wash. -- Barney Phillips occasionally spots bald eagles flying over his Parkland home, but a majestic bird got his attention Sunday night because it clearly couldn't fly.

"It was laying in the little play area, laying in the gravel with the wings spread out," Phillips described. "At first I thought it was dead."

When he realized the eagle was breathing, he started making calls, first to 911.

He bounced from the county to the state to the feds and eventually called the KOMO Problem Solvers.

We also reached out to the state, and Wildlife Officer Bruce Richards came to rescue the injured eagle.

It only took a moment for Officer Richards to have the eagle in hand. He thought both wings looked stable, but the bird seemed thin.

"Looks like he's maybe been down for awhile," Officer Richards described. "Just the way he feels. You feel his breast bone."

The eagle was destined for a wildlife rescue center on Bainbridge Island, but first it went to an animal hospital for X-rays.

"It may be that he's injured enough that he's so weak he can't fly," said Officer Richards. "Looks like blood along that leg so he might have some kind of injury higher up. It could be he got shot."

Sad news for Phillips who hoped to see the bird recover and return to the wild.

"It's something you don't see everyday. We've had several flying overhead and it's awe inspiring," Phillips said.

On Wednesday, a veterinarian with West Sound Wildlife Shelter completed a necropsy on the bald eagle. She found a bullet resting against the eagle's lung. The bullet had gone through bird's left leg and abdomen, then grazed her heart. That caused a pericardial effusion.

West Sound Wildlife will store the eagle's body and the bullet until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decides how to proceed.

Meanwhile, if something like this were to happen again, Phillips said he would call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, based on the advice he received from the state.

Sgt. Ted Jackson with WDFW told KOMO 4, the federal agency has jurisdiction but might have been too short staffed to help.