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
“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.