The American Eagle Foundation is reporting tonight, that with their area under mandatory evacuation orders, they undertook efforts to evacuate the eagles to move them to safety. First and most importantly, for those who may not see their Facebook page, here is a request they put out a short while ago (approx 2am their time Tuesday morning) asking for specific assistance needed related to a possible second evacuation in the morning. Here is their statement, and a link to their Facebook page for updates.
“Should a second evacuation take place tomorrow morning, the AEF may not have enough travel kennels/carriers to help rescue all Eagle Mountain Sanctuary Eagles (even after Petsmart donated all the kennels off of their shelves to the AEF tonight). If anyone in Sevierville/Kodak/Knoxville has Large to XL plastic dog kennels/carriers and would like to donate or loan them to the AEF please text 865-654-4223 or 865-256-0372 asap. We would be willing to set a drop-off point in Sevierville, where as of now, is safe from harm. We need these as soon as possible, just in case a second evacuation in the morning in necessary.”
link to Facebook page and their earlier statement (shown below) about the successful evacuation of eagles https://www.facebook.com/AmericanEagleFoundation/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED
“As most of you already know, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee are being threatened by large forest fires. We’ve already heard several reports of much of historic gatlinburg already burning down. Tonight around 8 PM, with the fire only miles away and a mandatory people evacuation in place, the AEF staff began conducting an emergency bird evacuation, something we have never had to do before. Our AEF first responders wasted no time rushing from their homes to our headquarters and loading somewhere around 50-60 birds into travel kennels and into every available vehicle. It wasn’t graceful, but we did our best to retrieve every bird and then load about 40-50 pounds of raptor food along with. These birds are now resting safely in individual kennels at several AEF staff member homes 10+ miles away from the fires. Al Cecere went to Dollywood to check on our Eagle Mountain Sanctuary Eagles…unfortunately, in the dark, with ashy hazy air, steep leafy hillsides, and other staff being turned away by police while they trying to bring extra travel kennels onto the Dollywood park, we were unable to catch up and rescue these eagles tonight. As of now they are safe and hanging out in their aviaries, albeit the air quality is not optimal. Eagle Mountain Sanctuary houses one of the largest collections of non-releasable Bald Eagles in the world. Several firetrucks and first responders are protecting Dollywood and we hope to receive reports in the morning from Dollywood security as to whether it’s safe to come evacuate them. We are hoping and praying for rain to come save our sweet home in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. We hope and pray that every person has made it out of the danger zones. We will keep you updated.”
Amazingly, the eagle camera at the park is still working tonight, and the picture with this post is from just a short while ago. I only had sound for a second, but it sounds like it is raining, which I understand is true in that area at this time. The forest fires in the area are doing significant damage and hopefully the rain will help them get the upper hand. Fires as intense as they are experiencing are an immense challenge to combat, even with the rain to help. Many thoughts and prayers going out to all who are affected in the area, and endless kudos to the amazing volunteers and staff at the American Eagle Foundation for their dedication!