Wildlife Center of Virginia releases rehabilitated bald eagle in Surry

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Video courtesy Lona Wilson.

SURRY COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — The Wildlife Center of Virginia released a rehabilitated American bald eagle Wednesday.

On October 2, two adult bald eagles were spotted on the ground in Portsmouth with their talons locked together. The Wildlife Center said the eagles were likely engaged in a territorial dispute. A Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries officer responded. One of the eagles flew off and the second was captured.

The eagle was taken to Nature’s Nanny Wildlife Rehabilitation, where it was stabilized before being transferred to the Wildlife Center in Waynesboro.

At the wildlife center, the eagle was admitted as the 2,217th patient of 2016. There, it received a complete physical exam, including radiographs. Veterinary staff found the eagle had cuts on the chest and shoulder, bruises near the eyes and legs and internal trauma. See the bald eagle’s full case history here.

The wildlife center says the eagle has recovered well from its injuries. It spent the past few weeks in the Wildlife Center’s outdoor pens, building up strength and stamina. Veterinary and rehabilitation staff have been exercising the eagle and have determined that the eagle was able to fly well and ready to be returned to the wild.

The eagle was released by Ed Clark, co-founder and president of the Wildlife Center, at the Chippokes Plantation State Park in Surry County.

This eagle was the latest in a series of eagles that have been outfitted with a transmitter, which allows the Wildlife Center to track the eagles’ travels. 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.

The Wildlife Center says the bald eagle population of North American was estimated to be about half a million before European settlement. With the loss of habitat, hunting, and the effects of pesticides, the U.S. eagle population plummeted. In 1977, there were fewer than 50 bald eagle nests in Virginia.

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

Since its founding in 1982, the Wildlife Center has treated scores of bald eagles, done extensive 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. So far in 2016, the Center has admitted 34 bald eagles, including the bird to be released Wednesday.