Its wounds healed, eagle takes flight

Published 2:28 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016

SURRY — With a little help and much fanfare, patient 16-2217 took flight last week from Chippokes Plantation State Park in Surry County.

The bald eagle was recently rehabilitated by the Wildlife Center of Virginia after it and another adult eagle were found on the ground in Portsmouth with their talons locked together. The birds were likely enmeshed in a territorial dispute, according to Randy Hula with the Wildlife Center.

One eagle flew off, while the eagle, that became patient 16-2217, was captured. The eagle was first taken to Nature’s Nanny Wildlife Rehabilitation and once stabilized, was transferred to the Wildlife Center in Waynesboro. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The eagle received a full physical examination, where it was found that it had chest and shoulder lacerations and abrasions near its eyes and legs, and radiographs showed signs of internal trauma.

The eagle received pain medication and antibiotics and spent a few weeks recovering in the Center’s outdoor pens.

The eagle that was released on Wednesday is the latest in a series of eagles that has been outfitted with a transmitter, which allow the eagles’ travels to be tracked.  Center-treated eagles outfitted with transmitters have checked in from as far north as the Canadian province of New Brunswick, and as far south as South Carolina.

It is estimated that the Bald Eagle population of North America numbered about half a million before European settlement.  With the loss of habitat, hunting, and the effects of DDT and other pesticides, the U.S. eagle population plummeted.  In 1977, for example, there were fewer than 50 Bald Eagle nests in Virginia. 

Today, the Bald Eagle population in Virginia is on the rebound.  It is estimated that there are now more than 2,000 active Bald Eagle nests in the Commonwealth. 

Since its founding in 1982, the Wildlife Center has treated scores of bald eagles, done studies of environmental factors that affect eagles and other wildlife, and worked to reform laws and regulations to strengthen the protection afforded to bald eagles.  Thus far in 2016, the Center has admitted 34 bald eagles, including the bird that was released last week.