COLUMBIA – The thin and injured bald eagle was sitting on a hillside near the water at Lake of the Ozarks when a hiker stumbled upon it in January.
“It was a rodeo,” said Tyler Brown, the Camden County Conservation agent who was in charge of catching the raptor. “We tried to make a human corral. We wanted him to go uphill.”
Instead, the eagle fled from the six humans into the water, hopping from one rock to another until he was about six feet out with nowhere to jump and a cedar tree blocking his path.
Brown used a catch pole, the ones used for dogs, to bring the bird ashore, then threw a blanket over it – but not before he was dealt a painful bite through the blanket and his welding gloves.
“It was quite the real deal,” he said. “We spent a good hour trying to get it.”
The eagle was taken to the MU Raptor Rehabilitation Project's compound and named Dysprosium, after element 66 on the periodic table. After almost eight months of care, the project plans to release Dysprosium at 1 p.m. Saturday at the swim and tennis cove at the Village of Four Seasons at the Lake of the Ozarks.
The project will sell raffle tickets – $1 each or $5 for seven – for the chance to release Dysprosium back into the wild starting at about 12:30 p.m. at the release site. The public will also be able to view and learn about other raptors that live at the project's compound.
When he first came to the compound, Dysprosium needed to be fed chicken instead of ratmeat because it is easier to digest. Dysprosium ate a rat a day, which equals about 10 percent of his weight.
Medication was also required, which meant catching him with large blankets each time he needed it.
“When they start feeling better, they start being really defensive,” Brenna Barger, president of the project said. “It’s a two person job.”
Barger, a third-year veterinary student, said the major metacarpal and minor metacarpal bones that were broken in the eagle's left wing have healed. While Dysprosium didn’t need surgery to fix the bones, he did need surgery to clean an infection.
As the primary hospital student in Dysprosium’s case, Barger has been making Dysprosium's medical decisions since May.
With his bones mended and flight muscles strong again, students will load Dysprosium into a large dog crate and into a Jeep on Saturday for the trip to the release site, which is near the place he was found.
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