By John Ramos

WALNUT CREEK (KPIX 5) — Bay Area veterinarians are doing everything they can to help rehabilitate a golden eagle after someone shot the bird in the wing.

At the Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek, they’re used to dealing with wounded animals. But the latest patient at the hospital is noteworthy for its sheer majesty. The golden eagle was brought in last week with a severely injured wing.

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“I think it was found by the side of the road so we assumed it was hit by a car or something like that,” said veterinarian Dr. Allison Daugherty. “We knew right away that the wing was badly injured because of all the bruising and swelling.”

But Daugherty says it was the X-rays that revealed something shocking.

“That’s when we saw the pellet and realized that the bird had been shot,” she said.

The eagle is thought to be a small female, at least six years old but possibly much older. We only know it was found in the Pittsburg area and California Fish and Wildlife is handling the investigation.

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Today, we were allowed in to the Lindsey Wildlife hospital to view the eagle’s examination and it was remarkable how calm she was. Daugherty says placing a hood over her eyes causes the bird to go into a dream-like state. Booties over the bird’s sharp talons provided an extra layer of safety.

“We don’t trust it. That’s why we got the booties on,” said Daugherty. “That’s why we’re handling it very carefully.”

The eagle’s bones have been stabilized with a homemade contraption of pins and supports and after cleaning and rewrapping the wing, the hood came off and medications were administered. After that, the eagle was taken back to its private aviary.

The doctor says the swelling and bruising has diminished, which is a good sign. It could be weeks or even months before they will know whether it will recover enough to ever be released back into the wild.

But that still leaves unanswered the most troubling question of all.

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“You know, we took those X-rays and I think we were all shocked with what we found,” said Daughtery. “Because we do see shot animals, but eagles? You know, who would shoot an eagle?”