Who helps the bald eagles of Nebraska? A trucker.

September 1, 2020

Wendy Parker


Kat Kennedy releases her recent eagle rescue.
Kat Kennedy releases her recent eagle rescue.

OOIDA member Kat Kennedy has had her share of surprised looks when she steps out of the cab of her cattle-hauler. Owning and working a 20,000-acre ranch in Nebraska requires her to wear all manner of work-hats that were at one time considered to be “a man’s job.”

“I’ve been teased at a facility a time or two,” she told Land Line. “I remember a guy saying something to the effect of, ‘I’ll bet she has a girlie truck,’ until he walked outside to take a look at my 10-speed KW – just like his,” she laughed.

In addition to working the ranch and hauling cattle, hay and anything else necessary to operate the ranch, Kat and her husband Kelly also rescue injured birds of prey that have fallen victim to weather or other unfortunate circumstances rendering them unable to fly.

“We have quite a few eagles on our property,” Kat said. “My personal experiences with rescue have been birds we found on our ranch.”

She estimates that there are 15-20 sets of eagles within the Kennedy-Dunn Ranch boundaries, which is a sixth-generation family-owned farm.

Both bald and golden eagles are territorial and often return to where they were born to nest when they are of breeding age. They mate for life, unless one of the pair dies or they are unable to reproduce together. The nests are comparatively vast and typically require large or old-growth stands of trees to support them. Losing a nest to storms or marauders greatly inhibits the birds’ ability to thrive.

Storm damage from the Aug.10-11 derecho wind storm left Kat’s most recent rescue to be displaced and injured. When she found the very young bald eagle on the ground unable to fly, Kat knew what to do.

“I called the Raptor Center,” she said.

Every state has some form of raptor recovery or rehabilitation center and most all of them are nonprofit, 501(c) charities. (If you should discover an injured bird of prey, call the raptor center in your area.)

Nebraska Raptor Center is an all-volunteer organization that takes in injured birds of prey. The recovery center does everything in its power to rehabilitate and release the birds back to their natural habitat. “It’s really neat when you get to see them released,” said Kat. “But sometimes it doesn’t work out, and that’s a bummer.”

Thankfully that wasn’t the case this time. Kat’s juvenile rescue was able to return to the ranch, hopefully, to live a long, successful life in her “hometown.”

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