Wausau pilot swoops in, transports injured bald eagle
By Jessica Bock
Wausau Daily Herald
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
The wings of a Wausau man helped fly a young bald eagle to a rehabilitation center in Antigo after the raptor had been hit by a car near Hayward on Sunday.
Rescuers hope to get the eagle soaring again after several months of rehabilitation at the Raptor Education Group in Antigo. The center is a nonprofit organization that nurses sick or injured birds, often from throughout Wisconsin and sometimes farther afield in the Midwest.
Marge Gibson, executive director, received a call on Sunday about the eagle that needed care. But finding volunteers to transport animals to her center is often a difficult task, particularly on a weekend and even more so on a Sunday afternoon. Gibson tried to contact several pilots to get the young eagle to her as soon as possible, but everyone she tried either was not home or was busy.
David Piehler wasn't at home either when Gibson called Piehler's wife, who tracked him down at his cabin. Piehler, who had met Gibson recently and mentioned his private plane and willingness to help transport injured birds, was ready to go as soon as Gibson told him about the injured bald eagle.
Despite the threatening weather Sunday, which had Gibson worried, Piehler made his flight plans and was in the air quickly, she said.
The young female eagle was set up to travel in a box with a blanket when Piehler, accompanied by his two teenage sons, picked her up at the Hayward airport at about 5:15 p.m. Piehler's first eagle passenger remained calm throughout the flight.
Piehler, his sons and the eagle arrived at the Antigo airport at 6:45 p.m. The Piehlers waited out the severe storms in the area before heading back to Wausau.
The eagle has a fractured pelvis and left leg, as well as internal injuries, Gibson said. It will take several months to rehabilitate, but Gibson expects the bird to make a full recovery. Piehler and his family will be invited to watch her release the eagle back into the wild.
Piehler, 48, a personal injury lawyer in Wausau, grew up in the 1960s when our national symbol was first listed as an endangered species. A hunter and sportsman, Piehler said Gibson's work inspired him to volunteer his time.
"I think that anything we can do to protect the species is a wonderful thing," he said. The injured birds would not live without the volunteers who bring them to the center in Antigo, Gibson said.
"It is through the generosity of fine folks like David and our other transporters that many of our patients have a second chance at life," Gibson said. "It is a wonderful thing to know that you have made a difference in a bird as magnificent as the bald eagle."