Eagles have landed in Whistler 

Raptor specialist offers glimpse into eagles' lives

By Clare Ogilvie

Tutshi looks every part the king of birds as his crooked claws clasp his perch and he surveys the land.

At any minute the six-year-old bald eagle should spread his wings and take to the skies.

But Tutshi will never soar again after crashing into power lines and breaking his wing. Six operations later, his wing held together with steel pins, he is able to get around but Daniel Johnson hopes this eagle, though crippled, will help him illustrate the perilous life birds of prey face as human and raptor struggle to survive in the same environment.

“The atmosphere for eagles is better than it ever has been,” said Johnson, one of a handful of raptor specialists allowed by the B.C. government to raise, hunt with, and rehabilitate birds of prey.

“But also it is worse than it has ever been because there are too many of us and not enough acres. There are more and more boats, more and more jet skis, more RVs going to the wilderness, more and more curious people, more and more snow machines, more and more heli-skiing, and more and more rock climbing.”

Johnson, who has been working with raptors for 30 years, and Sam White have come to the Edgewater Outdoor Centre in Whistler to offer an interpretive talk on their understanding of birds of prey after learning, watching and living with them in the wilderness of northern B.C. and the Yukon.

Johnson and White will both live in a teepee, often home to the raptors as well, while in Whistler. Near the tip of the teepee, which will be used to give presentations to the public, small red footprints can be seen making a path all the way around the fabric, a little gift from Johnson’s toddler daughter Danyka.

The move to the resort was partly motivated by the success Johnson had this past summer running educational shows for cruise chip tourists out of Skagway.

“I think the average age of my visitors was 62,” said Johnson as he gently moves the inside tarping of the authentic teepee where guests will warm themselves, listen to a power point presentation, and view historic articles telling of the long history of the regal bald eagle.

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