Conserving the Nature of America

News Release

Wayward Eagle En Route Back to Southeast

September 11, 2001

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Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220
Website: https://www.fws.gov/external-affairs/public-affairs/



A bald eagle that had numerous close encounters with beachgoers in New York and New Hampshire is winging its way south today on an airplane bound for Georgia where raptor trainers will determine if it can survive on its own in the wild, according to Dr. Mamie A. Parker, Northeast regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"Our goal is to return this majestic bird to fly in the wild," Parker said.

Since its capture August 22, in Salisbury, Mass., the young eagle has been undergoing a health evaluation at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine’s Wildlife Clinic.

"The eagle seems to be in good health," according to Dr. Mark Pokras, Wildlife Clinic director at Tufts. "X-rays and laboratory tests were normal, the bird is eating well, and there were no apparent injuries. Physically, this is a healthy bird. However, from what we have observed, we are concerned that behaviorally the bird may not be appropriate for release. It will be useful to have other experts evaluate the bird in a non-hospital setting."

The eagle was found injured in North Carolina, where it was subsequently treated and released into the wild in July by a raptor rehabilitator, according to Parker, before it made its way north. On beaches in New York and New Hampshire, the bird chased after footballs and food and scratched some people while local, state and federal wildlife biologists tried for several days to capture it.

Experienced raptor handlers Rob Sinkler and Steve Hoddy of EarthQuest Inc. in Pine Mountain Valley, Ga., will evaluate the eagle to determine whether it is imprinted or habituated to humans, Parker said. Sinkler and Hoddy hope to retrain the eagle using positive reinforcement so the eagle will stay away from people. The eagle may also need to learn how to spot and capture its own food in the wild. Sinkler expects that if retraining can be done, it may take about two months.

The Service will seek Sinkler and Hoddy’s recommendation as to whether the eagle can survive in the wild again. If so, they would likely attach a satellite transmitter to the eagle and monitor its movements to ensure that the bird is fully capable of living on its own. If the bird is not able to be released, it will be placed in a suitable conservation education facility in the Southeast.

Bald eagles are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses more than 530 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

-FWS-

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