SOUTH BELOIT—A bald eagle that was struck by a vehicle in South Beloit on Oct. 7 has died of its injuries, with wildlife and environmental conservationists urging drivers to be cautious and to prevent similar situations involving Stateline Area critters of all kinds.
On Oct. 7, a bald eagle was struck by a car in the area of Prairie Hill Road. It’s unclear when the incident occurred.
Karen Herdklotz, executive director of Hoo Haven in Durand, Illinois, said the vehicle that struck the bald eagle did not stop while a second vehicle stopped to help the severely injured raptor.
South Beloit Police Sgt. James Sanders and his family stopped to find the eagle and get it help from Hoo Haven, a wildlife rehabilitation and wildlife rescue service based in Durand, Illinois.
South Beloit Police Chief Adam Truman confirmed on Monday that no police report was taken following the incident.
The eagle made it to Hoo Haven where Herdklotz and the Hoo Haven team provided emergency care to the bird of prey, giving it pain medicine, antibiotics, fluids and food. She said the eagle was barely able to stand and had not accepted food from the care team before passing.
“The eagle wasn’t able to overcome its injuries,” Herdklotz said. “We got him in very late at night and we didn’t know how long he would last. It was bad when he came in.”
Nature at the Confluence Executive Director Therese Oldenburg said it was unclear if the eagle that was killed was part of the eagle family at Bony Island just south of the confluence of the Turtle Creek and Rock River.
“It’s amazing what officer Sanders did,” Oldenburg said. “A lot of people would not have stopped. He and his family stepped up. All of the people were in place.”
Wildlife struck by vehicles are often compassionately euthanized out of the severity of their injuries, she added.
“I always give them 72 hours,” Herdklotz said. “I have seen animals survive that I didn’t think had a chance and then some who didn’t look bad and they didn’t survive. In this case, we didn’t see any signs of evident broken bones and that’s the only reason we didn’t euthanize the animal.”
Although the eagle didn’t make it, Herdklotz said she finds solace in knowing Hoo Haven, which boasts a laboratory and surgery operating room, is able to offer the injured animals a safe place with pain relief medicine, food and aren’t alone.
“I had to make peace with that a long time ago,” Herdklotz said.
With the proper facility also comes Herdklotz’s experience. She’s a retired lead nurse who spent three decades with Crusader Clinic in Rockford.
Both Oldenburg and Herdklotz urged drivers to slow down while driving at night due to the increased chance of striking an animal, and both stressed the importance of not throwing food out along the side of a road.
“That attracts smaller animals which attracts the birds of prey,” Herdklotz said. “Then you could have a double kill where the smaller animal is struck followed by the second that’s showing up later.”
Bald eagles are known to feast on dead animal carcasses left on the side of the road.
If you are involved in an animal strike, both said drivers should stop and determine what was hit and whether or not the animal is alive or deceased.
If the animal is still alive, residents should contact non-emergency dispatch to report the accident and then following up with a wildlife conservation provider like Hoo Haven.
“You don’t hit something the size of a bald eagle and not realize it,” Herdklotz said. “We’ve all hit something, but don’t just leave it there to suffer. If it happens, pull over.”
If the creature is smaller, place it in a box and let it calm down while wildlife responders evaluate the next steps. If it’s larger, like an eagle or other bird of prey, contact local and state police. The authorities will then contact groups like Hoo Haven. When contacting Hoo Haven, be sure to leave a detailed message regarding the incident, including: name, phone number and location of the incident.
“Sometimes shock can kill them,” Herdklotz said.
Hoo Haven is currently seeking an intern and volunteers to assist in their efforts saving Stateline Area critters. To reach out, contact the group at 815-629-2212 or be sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are a list of other area wildlife groups that can assist the public:
Lisa’s Little Rescue of Winnebago—815-298-1300 (small mammals, no raccoons)
Carrie Eichenberger of Winnebago—779-200-7992 (raccoons)
Rhodes Raccoon Rescue of Roscoe—815-222-3246 (raccoons)
Candace Ridlbauer of Loves Park- 815-633-9193 (birds of prey)
Ann Whitney of Pecatonica—815-742-9119 (birds)
Brandy Farris of Forreston—815-990-5844 (small mammals including raccoons)
Rose Swenson of Caledonia—815-323-2747 (mammals and birds, no raccoons)