Bald eagle back into the wild

This 28-year-old female bald eagle, after seven weeks of rehabilitation, was released back into the wild in Marion County on June 18.

The bald eagle was chosen June 20, 1782 as the emblem of the United States of America. The majestic creature exudes great strength, grace and beauty.

On this July 4th weekend, as the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, what better way to celebrate our national birthday than to salute a specific bald eagle, just outside our backyard, who is making a remarkable recovery?

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally published by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

MARION – A 28-year-old female bald eagle that suffered injuries to her foot and eye received medical care from wildlife professionals and was released back to the wild in Marion County on Friday, June 18, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

The female bald eagle was released after more than seven weeks of rehabilitation.

On April 28, Ohio Wildlife Officer Chad Grote, assigned to Marion County, and Ohio Wildlife Officer Maurice Irish, assigned to Delaware County, responded to a landowner’s call about an injured bald eagle. After safely capturing the bird, the officers decided her toe and eye injuries required rehabilitation and transferred the eagle to Crows Hollow Wildlife Care in Richwood.

While rehabilitation professionals assessed the bird’s injuries, they discovered it was banded as a hatchling on June 10, 1993 at Reno Beach in Lucas County, making her an astounding 28 years old. On average, eagles live about 20 years in the wild.

Banding efforts during the early 1990s were one way to help monitor and increase bald eagle populations. Staff collected a blood sample, attached radio telemetry gear, patagial wing markers, a state leg band, and a federal leg band.

Current Division of Wildlife Assistant Chief Todd Haines and Mark Shieldcastle, a retired wetland research biologist, were on the banding team for this eagle.

“This bald eagle is on an amazing journey that brought it from Lucas County to central Ohio,” Haines said. “This bird has no doubt played a vital part of the bald eagle’s comeback in Ohio. I’m happy to see this eagle has made a complete recovery from its injuries, and also glad I had the chance to interact with it again after so many years.”

Rehabilitation professionals assessed her injuries and guessed the eagle likely entangled her foot in a wire or strong fishing line with a hook attached. As the bald eagle attempted to remove the object with her beak, she scratched her eye, leading to an infection. Consequently, the bird’s ability to hunt was affected and she became malnourished. Staff at Crows Hollow Wildlife Care addressed her injuries and improved her condition, allowing her to be returned to the wild.

With the help of banding programs, public education, rehabilitation, artificial nest construction, and fostering programs, bald eagle populations have increased in Ohio since a low of four nesting pairs in 1979. The bald eagle was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species in 2007 and from Ohio’s list in 2012. All bald eagles remain protected by the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

The Division of Wildlife extends a special thank you to the staff at Crows Hollow Wildlife Center for rehabilitating this eagle. For a complete list of Ohio rehabilitators, visit wildohio.gov.

Want to stay current on everything wildlife? Connect with the Division of Wildlife by downloading the HuntFish OH app, or check us out on Twitter and Facebook for instant news stories, outdoor recreation ideas, local wildlife information, and so much more.

The mission of the Division of Wildlife is to conserve and improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all. Visit wildohio.gov to find out more.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

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