Lake Erie Nature & Science Center successfully releases bald eagle

Amy LeMonds, Director of Wildlife at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, opens the cage to release the bald eagle on Sept. 25 in the Huntington Reservation.

Wildlife specialists from Lake Erie Nature & Science Center successfully released a male bald eagle back into the wild on Thursday, Sept. 25.

Initially admitted on Sept. 1, the bird was found weak, unable to stand, dehydrated and underweight. As with most wildlife patients, the cause of the injury or illness is unknown. Initial treatment consisted of fluid, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic therapy. Once stabilized and rehydrated, the animal was transferred to Medina Raptor Center (MRC) for additional conditioning in large flight cages. All caregivers agreed the animal was ready for release and were pleased at its quick response to treatment.

The bald eagle is a hatch-year bird so it is believed to be about 1.5 years old. It does not yet have the identifiable snowy white feathers on its head and neck as bald eagles do not fully develop their adult plumage until 5 years of age. Thanks to the restoration efforts by protection agencies such as U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services and Ohio Department of Natural Resources and efforts of organizations like Lake Erie Nature & Science Center and MRC, the bald eagle is no longer considered an endangered species.

Upon release, the bird left the cage immediately and flew across the field where it spent some time in a tree. It stayed close for awhile, circling the area, before heading off. The site was chosen as it was close to where the animal was rescued and being near Lake Erie provides bald eagles with a great habitat. Young eagles tend to roam until adulthood when they establish a territory and raise young.

Eagles scavenge many meals. Fish is a main staple of their diet but they will also hunt mammals and waterfowl. During the its rehabilitation, the male eagle was fed chicks, mice and rats, said Amy LeMonds, the Center's wildlife director.

Release back to their natural environment is the goal for all of the 1,000 patients admitted to the Wildlife Rehabilitation program each year. This service is provided to the public free of charge thanks to the generosity and support of donors.

“We’re the only ones in Cuyahoga County who have a wildlife rehibilitation center and we work hard to maintain high standards. We have state and federal permits that allow us to do this work and it’s a real privilege to be able to educate people about wildlife through our rehabilitation program,” said Catherine Timko, the Center's executive director.

Anyone who encounters wildlife that may be in need of assistance is encouraged to call the staff at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 440-471-8357 before intervening.

Wendy Hanna

Wendy Hanna is a staff member with Lake Erie Nature & Science Center

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Volume 6, Issue 20, Posted 9:55 AM, 09.30.2014