Special to The Times-Reporter
NEWCOMERSTOWN – A bald eagle had to be euthanized earlier this week after it flew into the path of a garbage truck and was injured. The eagle, which had been living south of the village, apparently had a prior injury to its right eye and likely never saw the truck, which was traveling on state Route 258. The humerus bone on the right wing was broken, leaving the the bird unable to fly. It also received massive injuries to its chest cavity, with doctors saying it could not be saved. It was euthanized Wednesday. “It just sucks,” said Brian Alford, a retired lieutenant from the Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office who helped make sure the eagle was rushed for medical attention. “I was really hoping it would survive and go somewhere that children could see it. I’ve never been that close to an eagle.” Wayland West of the Peoli area said he was driving near the area known as Mudsock south of Newcomerstown just after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and found a line of cars stopped because of the eagle sitting in the roadway. “I saw some cars stopped everywhere and looking at something on the road," he said. "As I approached, I realized it was a bald eagle. State troopers arrived as I was looking over the situation and looking at the eagle." West said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources had been called but wouldn't arrive for about three hours. "I knew it needed help before then," he said. "I grabbed a sheet out of the back of the car, got everyone back and approached it from behind to cover it to start calming him down. I think one of the biggest issues is to let people know that these are wild birds of prey and not to be approached. Give them room. I have worked with a lot of animals and knew what needed to be done." West called Alford for help and advice. "He and his wife, Erin, grabbed welding gloves, a blanket, a laundry basket and coats for protection," he said. "They were there within 20 minutes. They started communication with a falcon sanctuary in Coshocton. Because the eagle was calmer, they were immediately able to secure him in the laundry basket with another blanket, loaded him and they were gone within two minutes.”
Alford said the troopers had one lane of the road shut down and West had the eagle under a blanket when he and his wife arrived. “It was just laying there,” Alford said. “Its talons were starting to rip through the blanket. We had the welding gloves and were able to put the eagle in our vehicle to take it to Coshocton. We have a friend, Jessica Landis, who has done animal rescues and we called her before we did anything.”
Landis contacted Angie and Shane Pyle of Airmid Place, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Coshocton, and filled them in on the situation.
“Shane came as quickly as he could to pick up the eagle from me.," she said. "While waiting on Shane, I remained in the same squatting position the entire time, as to not stress out the eagle by my movements as much as possible. We stayed in my office with the door shut keeping things as quiet and calm as I could. It was quite intimidating keeping my hand on his chest, not pressing on him but just trying to keep him from going anywhere. “He was such a beautiful bird with the most mesmerizing, yet intimidating, eyes I have ever seen."
The eagle was then taken to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary in Mansfield.
“While he received the best care, unfortunately he needed to be euthanized," Landis said. "I was absolutely heartbroken to hear he couldn't be saved. I feel heartbreak for his mate as well, left not knowing where he has gone, just so sad. I feel blessed to have been a part of trying to save him and even more so for having the privilege of getting to be so up close and hands on with a bald eagle. It was an amazing experience that I wish could have had a better outcome.”