This wounded bald eagle was rescued from Pete Beechick's yard in Homer Glen on Friday. It was taken to Big Run Wolf Ranch in Lockport and was picked up on Saturday morning by state conservaton officers. | Photo Courtesy of Big Run Wolf Ranch
Updated: June 23, 2014 2:59PM
The sun was setting. Coyotes would soon be roaming. And it was only a matter of time before they would have found the wounded bald eagle that had hopped across Pete Beechick’s yard in southwest suburban Homer Glen Friday evening.
Beechick’s wife, Georgene, called the Will County Sheriff’s Department and a few other government agencies for help, but couldn’t get ahold of anyone to come out and take a look.
“It was a Friday night and it seemed like nobody cared, so I said, ‘You know what, call the Wolf Man,’” Pete Beechick said.
Moments later, John Basile — who owns a nearby ranch and educational facility that’s home to wolves, a bear, a tiger and other animals — picked up his ringing phone.
Basile could hear the sense of urgency in Pete Beechick’s voice, so he got in his truck, picked up a friend, and arrived in the rural area — roughly 35 miles southwest of Chicago — within the hour.
Basile found the bird hiding along a fence next to some bushes. “I thought I’d probably find a turkey vulture, but low and behold, it was a bald eagle.”
It’s white head was dirty with blood and mud. It’s nose was bleeding and its wings were scraped up. “It looked like maybe it sideswiped a car and took a tumble on some pavement,” Basile said.
As he approached, the bird flared its wings.
“It had about a five foot wingspan, but you could tell it was injured and couldn’t fly,” said Basile. “We cornered it and the bird fell on its back to defend itself with its talons,” he said.
Using a net and a pole with a loop on the end of it, Basile nudged the eagle into a cage.
But the group didn’t stand around congratulating themselves. The bird still needed help.
“I knew that if the bird didn’t get the fixes it needed within 48 hours, they probably couldn’t be made at all,” said Basile, who after a bit of legwork, was able to get in touch with the Illinois Conservation Police, which sent two officers to pick the bird up the next morning.
The eagle was immediately driven an hour to an animal clinic in downstate Streator.
Basile, who later got an update from the bird’s caretakers, said nothing on the eagle was broken, and it looks like the animal will be able to be released back into the wild.
“It feels great, the national symbol and everything,” said Basile, 58, who owns Big Run Wolf Ranch in Lockport. “We got there just in time. Those coyotes would have smelled the blood and there would have been two or three of them. They would have got him for sure.”
Beechick, 61, a body shop manager for Grossinger Auto Group, also felt good about the rescue.
“I’m not a veteran, but its really nice that we could save a thing like this,” he said.
Basile estimated the eagle weighed 10 pounds and was not fully grown.
Though still rarely seen in the Chicago area, bald eagles have been making a comeback in Illinois.
A record-setting number was reported during the Illinois Audubon Society’s annual Illinois Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey in which volunteers tallied 5,975 birds Jan. 1-15.
Bird lovers were delighted in 2012, when — for the first time in many decades — a pair of eagles were discovered nesting in a Cook County Forest Preserve along the banks of Tampier Slough in Palos Township, about 28 miles southwest of downtown Chicago.