Hit-and run eagle returns to skies over Madison Valley

IMGk_8292_bird_001_A female golden eagle that was hit by a truck on Feb. 6 was released with a clean bill of health by the Montana Raptor Conservation Center on Wednesday afternoon near the Big Sky Airport in Ennis. 

The eagle was momentarily stunned when Madison Valley resident Mike Graham picked her up off Highway 287, not far from the airport. He managed to wrap the bird up in a towel before giving her to a local game warden where she was transferred to the custody of the MRCC in Bozeman.

X- rays that were taken showed that the bird’s injuries were nothing more serious than soft tissue damage, said MRCC director Becky Kean, and the animal was up moving around again in no time.

Kean said that the MRCC takes in about 150 raptors a year, but most of them stay longer than this particular golden eagle.

“This one was a pretty quick turnaround,” she said.  “Which is wonderful for the bird and us.”

As the bird and her handlers returned near the sight of her injury on Wednesday, Graham’s five-year-old grandson Rylan had the honor of opening the door to the dog crate and releasing the bird. With the blink of an eye and a flap of its gigantic wings, the magnificent bird exploded out of Graham’s truck bed and into the sky.

“I would much rather see her out here again than a spot on the road,” Graham said.

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