BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - One South Mississippi rescue group is looking to help an injured crane.
The great blue heron has been on the run for more than three weeks, sending the Wild at Heart Rescue crew on a wild goose chase.
“He has an injury in his neck about a foot long. We suspect it’s from a hook," said Missy Dubuisson with the rescue team.
The bird caught the attention of local fishermen who tried to feed it and noticed a gaping gash on its neck.
“We watched it try to swallow, and the fish came right out the side of the neck of the crane which was kind of strange," Christopher Sherman, a Pearl River County resident.
At first, the hole was wide enough to count his bones.
“We named him Timex because he takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin'," Dubuisson said.
The wound is beginning to heal with help from medication provided by Wild Heart Rescue.
“We put specific antibiotics and pain medicines and anti-inflammatory in a decent sized fish,” Dubuisson said.
She said sedation is not an option because the crane could drown if the medicine takes effect as he’s flying over water.
“It seems impressive that the crane is able to outwit everybody. It knows the people who are out here trying to catch it," Sherman said.
Rescuer Cody Tyner has lost more than sleep in the process.
“Yeah, probably four or five pounds. A lot of sweating," he said. “Literally been leaving work and coming here for two or three hours every night.”
His team calls him the Critter Ninja for his catching skills, but the blue heron may be his greatest challenge yet.
“Our first tactic we did was to try to gain his trust. Walk up to him slowly, talk to him lightly,” Tyner explained. “We would attempt to get closer and closer. We’d even get in as much as five or six feet and then we try to lunge at him. That wouldn’t work.”
Foul play from other cranes and seagulls made the hunt more difficult. The birds would jump on the fish intended for Timex.
“The animals around here, they do what they do," Sherman said.
Tyner believes the possibility of properly treating the crane is worth the effort.
“Save 'em from dying, rehabilitate them, release them back into the wild to fight for themselves," he said.
Rescuers hope to get Timex stitched up so he can have a flying chance at life.
Wild at Heart Rescue urges people to avoid trying to catch the blue heron themselves.
“We wouldn’t want someone who didn’t know what they were doing to break his neck,” Dubuisson said.
Instead, if you see the injured bird message Wild at Heart on their Facebook page.