Locals Rescue Bald Eagle In Late Night Wrangle At Alaska Ship Supply

Mar 1, 2021

 

Waving long PVC pipes and tossing blankets and pieces of cardboard, local law enforcement, store employees and volunteer Brie McGrath pursued the eagle through the store for over an hour.
Credit Maggie Nelson/KUCB

On Thursday evening, around 9 p.m. a bald eagle made its way into the Alaska Ship Supply grocery store in Unalaska. 

From outside, the store appeared closed and quiet — the lights were off and the parking lot was virtually empty, except for two local cop cars. On the inside, however, store employees, local law enforcement and a volunteer were pursuing the unwelcome guest, waving long PVC pipes and tossing blankets and pieces of cardboard, in an attempt to maneuver the bird out of the large building. 

 

The eagle got in through the back of the building, according to Karl Cristobal, who's been working at the local store for about three years. He said he's heard of a few eagles getting into the Alaska Ship warehouse, located at the back of the store, in the past. But since he's been working there, he hadn't heard of any actually getting inside where customers shop. 

"It's happened like four times, I guess," said Cristobal. "This is just the first one inside."

After over an hour of being chased up and down aisles by two police officers, store employees and volunteer Brie McGrath — a fisheries biologist with the local Department of Fish and Game — the bird finally tired out and fell to the ground. McGrath then gently but quickly trapped it in a fleece blanket, carried it outside and set it free near Margaret Bay.

This wasn't the first time in her three years on the island that McGrath has helped rescue a trapped eagle. She's volunteered to help with several "eagle wranglings," and said she enjoys helping her feathered friends. This time though, McGrath said she was worried about how long it was going to take to get the eagle out of the store.

Despite a minor talon injury, according to volunteer Brie McGrath, the eagle looked good overall and should be just fine.
Credit Maggie Nelson/KUCB

  

"We've had one that was in a frozen warehouse similar to this — like the same size — and they couldn't get it out for three weeks," she said. "They got it out eventually, but it's hard to get them out of those rafters."

By the end of the night, the eagle wasn't the only one that seemed exhausted. As McGrath struggled to catch her breath while carrying the large bird outside, it was clear that this was also a battle for her.

"I've never had one fight that hard," she said. "It was struggling, but I think it'll be okay now."

Despite a minor talon injury, according to McGrath, the eagle looked good overall and should be just fine.