BILLINGS — There wasn’t much happening along Yellowstone River Road in the Billings Heights Wednesday, but on Tuesday, it was the site of a rescue operation. A juvenile bald eagle was electrocuted by a power line, and a good Samaritan saved the day.
It was an eventful day for Josh Thometz.
“I just happened to, out of the corner of my eye, catch him on the ground on the side of the road,” Thometz said on Wednesday.
He’s seen a bald eagle perched on top of a power pole at the corner of Cherry Creek Loop and Yellowstone River Road from time to time but wasn’t expecting to see it on the ground.
“Just pulled over and noticed he had a big wound on his wing, was panting really bad, obviously not in good shape,” said Thometz.
He called the non-emergency number at Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and was connected with an employee at WHJ Bird Resources.
“I just went and got a chair to try to get some shade on it for a while, as that was their advice, and then grabbed a spray bottle and hosed it down, try to keep it cool until they got here,” said Thometz.
Fish, Wildlife, and Parks also arrived and determined the eagle was severely dehydrated. But thanks to Thometz, it’s now been given a second chance at life.
“It looks like it’s a really good candidate for rehabilitation and re-release as of today,” said Winston Greely of Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.
Greely says that particular power pole alongside Yellowstone River Road attracts eagles because it looks right over the Yellowstone River.
“It looks like it’s doing pretty good. It was back on its feet this morning. We’re looking at transferring it to the Bozeman Raptor Center this afternoon,” Greely said.
It could have gone a completely different way if Thometz hadn’t seen the raptor.
“It could have gotten really bad but thankful to the public and good Samaritans that we have out there to see that,” said Greely.
For Thometz, he’s just glad he can help preserve a little piece of nature.
“'Cuz I do think that someday if we’re not careful, it’s not going to be around for our kids which is pretty sad, so,” said Thometz.