When game warden Spencer Grace spotted a grounded eagle, he couldn’t work out what was wrong with it. So, he edged closer to the animal to get a better look. It was then that he realized the bizarre reason why the bird couldn’t fly.
For more than a century, the Oklahoma Game Wardens have looked after the state’s natural resources. They work as part of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to manage and safeguard the local wildlife.
As part of their job, the wardens patrol almost 70,000 square miles of land and more than 78,000 miles of streams and rivers. Within this area, they’re responsible for protecting a large number of native wildlife species including 108 mammals, 352 birds and 176 fish.
With such a large and varied range of duties, presumably no two days are the same for the wardens. And one person who knows this better than anyone is Spencer Grace. Having been named Game Warden of the Year in 2017, Grace appears to be one of the best in the game.
And in February 2018 Grace experienced an extraordinary incident. It all began when some ranchers contacted the warden to report the plight of a bald eagle in the local area. They knew the bird well and often watched on as it visited the same tree each day.
On this particular day, however, the ranchers became worried when they witnessed the eagle flapping about on the floor beneath its usual perching spot. Try as it might, the bird couldn’t seem to clear the ground. With each attempt to take off, it raised itself up just a couple of feet before plummeting back down to Earth once more.
When Grace arrived at the scene, he was no doubt eager to get to the bottom of the eagle’s predicament. But nothing could have prepared him for what he’d discover. That’s because the bird’s body and wings were covered in ice.
It turned out that the bird had been caught up in an ice storm that had occurred earlier in the day. And the bad news was that there was more bad weather on the way. As a result, Grace only had a limited amount of time to help the eagle.
Grace was unsure whether he’d be able to catch the bird, but the warden decided that he’d give it his best shot. In video footage on Facebook of the rescue attempt, the he gets as close to the eagle as possible before somehow managing to lure it into a carrier.
Once he’d secured the bird, Grace brought it back to his truck, where he turned the camera on himself. “I’m trying to catch my breath, because it wasn’t really easy to get caught up with him,” he confesses while looking understandably tired.
Turning his attention back to the eagle, Grace then shows his audience that the bird is covered in ice. Thankfully, though, the warden knows a simple remedy that should help the animal. He turns on his truck’s heaters and lets the bird’s feathers thaw out.
With the bird warming up nicely, Grace becomes confident that it will make a full recovery. “I’ll get him warmed up, and hopefully he’ll be able regain his energy and get dried off,” the warden tells his audience.
“He’s pretty stressed out right now,” Grace adds. “This kind of weather is really hard on wildlife of all kinds. I guess it’s the first time I’ve had an eagle that couldn’t fly that was coated in ice.”
Thanks to the warden’s expert care, though, the eagle is soon ready for release. After around 45 minutes in the warmth of the truck, the bird has fully thawed out. As a result, Grace removes the animal from his vehicle and sets it free into the field.
And it’s instantly clear to see that Grace’s dedication has paid off. After flying close to the ground for a few seconds, the bird gains some height before landing on a nearby branch, where he presumably continues to recover from his ordeal.
As he watches the bird soar up to his perching point, Grace is unable to hide his happiness for the eagle. “It looks like he’s going to fly away,” Grace says with pride. “He’s going to make it up to that tree.”
This rescue was all the more special because the animal in question was a bald eagle. The bird has been a national emblem of the United States since 1782. It was chosen because of its magnificent appearance and impressive power.
Following Grace’s successful rescue mission, the footage appeared on the Oklahoma Game Wardens Facebook page. And since going live in February 2018, the video has clocked up 1,200 reactions and more than 640 shares.
Furthermore, the footage has also won Grace a legion of fans. “Thank you for being such a great person and helping this animal,” one Facebook user wrote beneath the video. “Heartwarming to see. Keep up the good work, sir.”
Meanwhile, another viewer added, “What a great story! Really appreciate your effort and care, Warden Grace. And to the ranchers who had the foresight to call for help; you know you make us proud!”