CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — A North Carolina couple driving through West Virginia saved a injured bald eagle back in August. On Saturday they returned to the Mountain State to release the eagle back into the wild.
Jerry and Kathleen Lynch had never been to West Virginia. They were just passing through on their way home to North Carolina after spending two weeks at a Lakota Indian Reserve in South Dakota.
“We don’t even usually go this way,” explained Kathleen Lynch. “But I told my husband to mix it up.”
Luck, fate, whatever you want to call it, someone or something wanted them to travel through West Virginia that day.
“We crossed the Ohio River, near Point Pleasant, I think on Route 35 and my eyes met with the eagle,” said Jerry Lynch. “He was just standing there on the shoulder of the highway.”
Jerry and Kathleen noticed an eagle. He had been injured, with a broken wrist, just laying on the side of the road. They wanted to help but weren’t sure how. They called state police, local detachments, DNR, and then finally they got in contact with Mike Book.
Book is the director of the West Virginia Raptor and Rehabilitation Center located in Fairmont. The non-profit is dedicated to the care of injured, sick, and orphaned birds of prey and their eventual release back into the wild.
Book directed the Lynchs on how to safely capture the eagle. They were able to get him into a big box they had in their trunk. They then drove more than 2 hours out of their way to Fairmont to drop the bird off at Book’s Center.
The couple left the eagle in Book’s care, but not before naming him. They called him “Wanbli” which means eagle in the native Lakota language.
Wanbli had a broken wrist, which as Book explained to 13 News Reporter Lily Bradley, is an injury that does not usually heal.
“To everybody’s surprise the bird kept getting better and better. The splint came off on it’s own, and we took it to the vet to have it x-rayed and they said he was good to go,” explained Book. “But he’d been flying in his cage, and boy can he fly!”
After a nearly six months stay at the rehabilitation center, Wanbli was ready to be released back into the wild. Jerry and Kathleen made the trip back to West Virginia to take part in the special day. The release happened Saturday, at the Hunting and Fishing Expo at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience, just an amazing honor to be here,” said Jerry Lynch as his wife nodded in agreement with a smile on her face.
He added, “It’s such a wonderful experience… not bad for a guy from Newark, New Jersey.”