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Cherise Winkler did her best to help Talon the bald eagle

Cherise Winkler's love of animals extended to an injured bald eagle.
Talon the Bald Eagle being transported to Wapella for medical attention.

CARLYLE - Carlyle teen Cherise Winkler recently experienced a day she will never forget.

Visiting with grandparents Don and Judy Valentine at their home a few kilometres northeast of Carlyle, Winkler went out for a stroll after supper. Around 300 metres from the house, she came across a bird in obvious distress.

Cherise recognized it to be a bald eagle. It had a severely damaged right eye and appeared dazed and confused.

“It just stood there and let me come closer to it,” she said.

Not having her phone, she excitedly ran back to the house to grab it and advised her grandparents of her find. 

“It was simply unbelievable,” said Judy Valentine. “The eagle appeared to be in bad shape by the pictures Cherise showed me. It obviously needed help and I tried calling the government’s conservation help line. It was after hours, and I thought leaving a message just wasn’t enough. Instead, I decided to try the TIPS (Turn in Poachers) line and they gave me the phone number of a conservation officer.

“I sent her pictures, but she didn’t seem to be too positive about a recovery.”

Cherise convinced the eagle to move closer to the underbrush for more protection and then went home for the night. She came back in the morning and the eagle hadn’t moved. It was obvious it needed prompt medical attention.

Cherise’s other grandmother, Cheryl Winkler, operated the Moose Mountain R & R Wildlife Rehabilitation at her acreage near Kenosee. Cherise has always had a very special bond with all animals and as a child she would often help Cheryl tend to the sick and injured wildlife. Cheryl passed away in 2017.

Tricia Mogstad operates the Silverwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre near Wapella. Judy and Cherise sent her pictures that morning and she asked them to transport the eagle to her rehab centre as soon as possible if they could contain it. 

“We drove to Carlyle and came back with a large dog kennel borrowed from Teresa at Bright Eyes Dog Rescue and found a couple of bedding sheets,” said Judy Valentine. “I am scared of birds, but I faced my fears and let my granddaughter put him in the kennel and into the back of my vehicle. We brought him to Wapella as soon as we could.”

“I hoped for the best for him and wanted him to have a name, we named him Talon,” she proudly proclaimed.

According to Silverwood, the bald eagle was a male and based on his head feathers, was three years old. It was determined that Talon was suffering from some sort of infection and was severely dehydrated and starved. He was immediately injected with fluids and medication.

After four arduous days and nights of attempted rehabilitation, Talon passed away quietly while being held in preparation of his next feeding.

“We know this turned into a sad story, but it was quite the experience and one that we will never forget,” said Judy.

Cherise was obviously heartbroken when she heard the news, as her wish was to see Talon released back where she had found him, but she has handled it well.

“It brought back fond memories of my childhood and working with Grandma Winkler at her rehab centre,” said Cherise. “I love all animals and being outside. I have always wanted to work with animals and will continue to do what I can to help with rescues, be it wildlife or with Auntie Teresa. I know they can’t all be saved, but I am thankful that Tricia at Silverwood was willing to try and gave it her best. And I will never forget my close encounter with Talon the Bald Eagle.”