It's difficult to say today that Brian was a success story but we can say with certainty that he made a difference to NIWRA and the people he impacted.
Brian, the ambassador for all eagles has died. This internationally-known eagle was admitted to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in 2001 with a severe gun shot to his face and chronic leg problems.
For almost a year, manager Robin Campbell, painstakingly worked on the infected wound. “Brian allowed me to work on him without the aid of sedation. He was a very special bird”, Campbell said. The decision to euthanize Brian was agonizing as Robin explained fighting back tears. It was a day of mourning. Brian’s quality of life had to be examined. Robin Campbell said, “It was a very sad day for me but I know we made the right decision. We always want the quality of life to come first.” Brian was an older bird upon admittance therefore his age also played a big part in this decision.
Over the eight years, Brian had received up to ten prosthetics to compensate for the partial loss of his upper mandible (beak). The prosthetics were adapted to fit the ever changing beak. In the last year it became apparent the prosthetic was becoming cumbersome for Brian and it was removed. His care worker still cut his food up for him but his overall body condition was worsening in spite of regular intervention by NIWRA’s manager and veterinarian
This amazing process of helping Brian was aided by dentist Brian Andrews (and so named) who initially designed the first prosthetic with Fred Leak, a denturist from Victoria, taking over the remaining designs and manufacturing of the prosthetics. In 2008, the beak started to corkscrew and turn to the left. He needed regular handling to maintain the beak so he could eat and preen himself. Brian sojourned on and with dignity allowed the procedure to be done. Brian was never put in a position of discomfort. Low voices were used with a gentle stroking of his chest as they worked on him. Every procedure was slow and methodical until he had had enough.
This bird made a difference. He became the international ambassador for all eagles in distress. For Fred Leak, Brian’s journey went beyond Vancouver Island. Fred was asked several times to help other eagles with the same problem and traveled to Grants Pass, Oregon to the Wildlife Image Rehabilitation Centre to make a prosthetic for another eagle. This bird had a different temperament than Brian. He needed to be sedated every time he was handled. Fred received calls from Idaho in regards of an eagle from Alaska. The San Diego Zoo asked for advice in making a prosthetic for a toucan. Fred was able to tell them about moisture build up under the prosthetic and its eventual problem with Brian.
Fred admitted, “I wanted to see what the end result would be for Brian. I’m not sure if we failed him or if there was enough gain through the media where other eagles could be helped. Certainly Brian has reminded us on a daily basis that eagles have been slaughtered unnecessarily”.
Brian was more than a bird. He was our friend, a sentinel, a legacy to NIWRA and an ambassador to eagles.
Brian's body will be cremated with a private memorial for staff and volunteers at the centre.
MARMOT SURVIVES TRIP IN ENGINE HOLD
A yellow bellied marmot arrived to the centre after suffering serious burns while wedged next to a mini van's engine enroute to Port Alberni from Prineton,BC. The driver who unknowingly ferried the marmot, discovered the animal in Port Alberni and went to a Canadian Tire for assistance in removing it after its discovery.
Unsucessful tries by the business and the SPCA led to a conservation officer sedating the marmot before it could be removed from the engine compartment and taken to NIWRA.
The marmot was examined by NIWRA's vet Dr. McAdie and was treated for major burns to its feet and areas srrounding its groin. Campbel, NIWRA wildlife manager said the marmot's pads were burnt right off.
Unfortunately, the injuries were so extensive, the animal was later euthanised. This is a indication of the type of injuries NIWRA deals with on a continuous basis.
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