Ailing Eagle Captured in P’town

The raptor squad hit the Cape tip early Tuesday morning. Their mission: capture an ailing juvenile bald eagle.

Funny thing about eagles, though. They move fast, even the sick ones. And in downtown Provincetown, a summer hotbed of traffic, tourists and chockablock houses, an eagle can disappear like a taloned ghost.

But that didn’t deter Alexandra Mueller, wildlife rehabilitator at Eastham-based Wild Care and two interns, Mike Steele and Daphne Boulicault, after they received a call expressing concern for the bird.

They hotfooted it up to Provincetown and a bumpy chase ensued. The trio used found objects — a ladder, tennis balls, water sprayed from a hose — to convince the bird to abdicate a roof perch, but despite their ingenuity, the bird disappeared.

“So we spread out, separated, started running through people’s backyards, trying to triangulate where the eagle had landed,” recalled Mueller.

Then, a hot tip! A bystander had seen the eagle on the ground. The raptor squad struck, well, like a raptor. “We netted him,” said a bushed-but-beaming Mueller.

Wild Care intern Mike Steele said it was a fine way to spend a morning. “Most of the time I’m here cleaning crates and feeding the animals,” said Steele.

“So it’s always exciting when you can go out and catch a bald eagle.”

The months-old eagle is underweight, dehydrated and lice-infested, said Stephanie Ellis, Wild Care’s executive director. Plans call for the bird, which is about 2 feet tall, to be stabilized at the Eastham facility and then moved to an off-Cape wildlife center for further recovery.

Mueller thinks the bird might have only lasted a few more days in the wild. “The more you do this, the more you see the signs of a bird that really needs care immediately,” she said.

Staff writer Jason Kolnos contributed to this report.

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