Recovered bald eagle to be released today

By on March 24, 2013

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – A recovered bald eagle will be released late today by Teton Raptor Center (TRC) after nearly a month on the mend. It will mark the ninth time in 2013 that a rehabilitated bird has been returned to the wild.

Residents of Melody Ranch first noticed the eagle struggling to remain upright in the snow on February 28. Calls were made to Game and Fish. G&F biologist Susan Patla alerted the raptor center. Neighbors near the Jackson Hole Polo Club informed the center that another bald eagle was seen nearby the injured one and that the pair was likely the same two birds known to nest in the area for many years.

After observing the eagle, it was clear to TRC staff that the bird had serious coordination issues suggesting it may have experienced head trauma or was possibly poisoned. At TRC, the eagle remained unstable on his legs and quivered uncontrollably. X-rays showed no visible injury to the head and lead toxicity tests also came back negative.

Dr. Dan Forman of Spring Creek Animal Hospital, who serves on TRC’s Board of Directors, suspected some sort of toxin was causing the nervous system issues. The estimated five-year-old male bald eagle improved considerably after a few weeks of supportive care which included all the quail he could eat. He has since regained coordination and tethered test flights last week indicate the animal appears to have made a full recovery.

Bald eagle test flight at TRC (Ian Dolly)

Bald eagle test flight at TRC (Ian Dolly)

Release is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. today after a brief informative talk takes place at 5 p.m. To avoid a potential conflict over territory, the eagle will be released at the Raptor Center rather than Melody Ranch where it was found in case it is not one of the resident eagles commonly observed by residents in that area. If the eagle’s home turf is indeed Melody Ranch, TRC staff assures the public the bird will recognize his surroundings and be able to fly back home in a matter of minutes.

Check back here on Tuesday for video of the release.

To report a suspected sick or injured bird, call the Teton Raptor Center’s Injured Raptor Hotline at 307-200-6019.

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