Una Freed

Una Freed’s compassion remembered

Not many people can claim they lived with a bald eagle for 13 years.
But longtime wildlife rescuer Una Freed of Chilliwack could.

Not many people can claim they lived with a bald eagle for 13 years.

But longtime wildlife rescuer Una Freed could.

Freed, 79, passed away recently and a memorial service is set for Nov. 22 at Woodlawn Mount Cheam Funeral Home chapel at 1:30 p.m.

Local resident Verna Pigou remembered Freed’s kindness and her compassion for creatures of all kinds, but especially birds.

“She didn’t choose them. They came to her, often left on her doorstep,” said Pigou. “She find a box but she wouldn’t know if it contained kittens or a spitting raccoon.”

For years she had a raptor’s licence, which allowed her to house and care for endangered birds of prey. Freed grew up on a farm in southern Manitoba and learned everything she knew about animals and bird by doing it hands-on.

In an interview with the Chilliwack Progress in 2000, Freed said it all began one winter day in 1979.

“An eagle was hit with a shotgun blast out near Hemlock Mountain,” Freed said. “The SPCA sent it here and that’s how this all got started. The word has gotten out and I’ve got quite a reputation.”

With a special “rehabilitators’ network” permit from the Canadian Wildlife branch, she had cared for every kind of baby animal imaginable over the years from deer to coyotes, possums, and more. The birds ranged from eagles, hawks, owls, vultures, to crows, robins, doves, starlings, and Stellar’s jays.

At one point she had a pot-bellied pig and even a baby beaver in residence.

Pigou worked with a local vet for years, and would do support work for Freed as well.

“Her trick was canned milk for any mammal babies she ended up with,” said Pigou.

She’d feed them, heal them and set them free. She never babied them.

Almost every kind of bird ended up at Una’s old place on Bailey Road.

“She would carry them like they were a purse. Beaks, or sharp claws were no matter. Even the eagle would be under her arm, with talons tucked in.”

She never wore gloves.

“The birds just seemed to relax with her.”

A big barred owl wouldn’t leave.

“She tried to let him go, but he came back. She ended up taking him into the schools to educate children about wildlife,” Pigou remembered.

The only critters she never took in were bears or snakes.

Free was the wildlife person for more than three decades and all her work was paid for with donations, and the u-pick blueberry farm she and her husband ran.

At one point she felt dejected from so many animals that passed away, and Pigou tried to raise her spirits.

“I told her with a success rate of 50 per cent was phenomenal, and she’d find the best way to release the animal back into the wild after it had healed.”

Freed also was involved in a range of activities from volunteering at the Royal Canadian Legion, to the Chilliwack Fair where she exhibited bantams and judged horticulture, as well as Girl Guide, foster parenting and participating in the annual Christmas decoration context.

“This kind of activity shows what people can do when they get involved in their community. It just amazed me,” Pigou said. “Una was a character and a half.”

 

Just Posted

Chilliwack Chiefs erase three goal deficit in overtime win

Down 3-0 to the Cowichan Capitals, the Chiefs came back to win 4-3 in the BCHL Showcase match.

Chilliwack man feeling helpless about puppy stolen while at church

Evidence of neighbour trespassing and accusing him of dog neglect not enough for RCMP

UPDATE: Missing Chilliwack man has been found

Chilliwack RCMP is thanking the public for keeping an eye out

UPDATED: Chilliwack councillor’s expenses being sent to the RCMP

Decision to have expenses audited and shared with RCMP taken at special meeting of council

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read