Weak, stressed, and with a gunshot wound on the left side of its neck, a juvenile Philippine Eagle was rushed to Davao City from Bukidnon yesterday following yet another shooting incident that continues to threaten the population of the endangered national bird.

Malaybalay Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer Felix Mirasol contacted the Philippine Eagle Foundation late Wednesday evening to turn over the injured bird for treatment at the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, Baguio District, Davao City.

"Fun, food, and curiosity" was Mirasol's reply when asked about the possible reasons for the shooting.

Volunteers at work
The young eagle was recovered by three volunteer guards monitoring the Mt. Kitanglad Protected Area. Volunteer Jelson Digbas had reportedly seen the eagle being kept in a chicken cage in a house in Barangay Kaatuan in Lantapan, Bukidnon.

The wound on the eagle's neck seemed fresh, prompting Digbas and his fellow volunteers Jacinto Cambari and Emeliano Lumiston to contact Lantapan Mayor Narciso Rubio who arranged for an ambulance to bring the eagle to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) office in Malaybalay.

Details on the eagle's captors and the circumstances of its shooting however remain sketchy.

Close call
Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) Veterinarian Rheyda Hinlo and three other PEF staff rushed to Bukidnon to meet Mirasol halfway to treat the bird. Hinlo found the bird alert but weak, with bruises on its wings.

An X-ray examination conducted late Thursday evening revealed an airgun pellet lodged under the eagle's skin at the back of its head. The pellet was removed successfully, but further review of the eagle's X-ray is needed to determine if the skull was fractured.

Future plans
Mirasol, who is also Mt. Kitanglad Protected Area Superintendent, commended the volunteer guards for their actions. Mirasol's Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) is also looking into drafting new policies to monitor entry of local people to the park to prevent similar incidents in the future.

PEF Executive Director Dennis Salvador supports Mirasol's efforts, saying "Human persecution continues to be a threat to the viability of the wild eagle population. Unless drastic measures are enforced to go after perpetrators, the Wildlife Act 9147 will be an inutile instrument in protecting the country's natural heritage."

Philippine Eagle Foundation
VAL Learning Village, Ruby St.
Marfori Heights, Davao City 8000 Philippines