A male sandhill crane that was shot with an arrow off East End Road has been rescued and reunited with its colts, according to Kachemak Crane Watch.
Crane Watch keeps track of local cranes, which were once a rare sight in the Homer area.
Co-founder Nina Faust said she started tracking the injured crane last week, after someone called in a report.
She said shooting cranes outside the fall hunting season isn’t only illegal — it’s also cruel.
“Because it’s inflicted serious pain and injury on this innocent creature,” she said. “This beautiful, innocent creature that’s absolutely adored by the people that live in that neighborhood.”
Faust said the crane had an arrow through its breast and out the wing, but was still walking around and feeding his colts.
“He was still, amazingly, doing pretty well considering that he had an arrow through him,” she said.
She said the Crane Watch was waiting for the right time to approach the bird, and wanted to make sure there were experienced volunteers on hand to help. One attempt to reach the crane failed when the crane ran down a ravine.
Faust called the International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin and reached out to a retired local veterinarian for help. Homer Veterinary Clinic donated antibiotics for the bird.
When all the pieces were in place and the crane was spotted on July 9, the volunteers surrounded the crane and launched their rescue. Faust said the bird bolted, at first. But ultimately, experienced bird rescuer Jason Sodergren was able to get to him with a net and Ralph Broshes, the retired vet, pulled the arrow out and applied antibiotics.
“We had a quick conference. ‘What do you think? Send him to (Anchorage’s) Bird TLC or let him go?’ And all of us said ‘Let’s let him go,’” Faust said.
The volunteers brought the crane over to his family.
“And Jason let him go and he ran off, spread his wings and flapped them a bunch of times as he went down to a creek to get a drink,” she said. “And then shortly thereafter was reunited with his family.”
Faust said there doesn’t seem to be much damage to the crane. The arrow pierced through his feathers, and not the bone, and Faust said he appears to be breathing fine.
Still, they’ll be keeping tabs on him to make sure the injury didn’t impact its ability to fly. Homer’s cranes migrate south each winter.
“I will be following the story and we are hoping for the happy ending — that the family all takes off to California together,” Faust said.
She said the complicated effort shows how important it is to approach rescues with an experienced team.
Faust said anyone with information about who shot the crane can report it to Alaska Wildlife Troopers’ Safeguard hotline at 1-800-478-3377.