Wildlife Center to Release Bald Eagle on Monday, September 21

The Wildlife Center of Virginia, a leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, will release a juvenile Bald Eagle on Monday, September 21 at 12 noon in Westmoreland County. The eagle will be released by Dr. Dave McRuer, the Center’s Director of Veterinary Services.

The release is free and open to the public. Individuals who wish to attend should meet at the Visitor Center of the George Washington Birthplace National Monument; attendees are asked to RSVP to the Center at lkegley@wildlifecenter.org. The address for the George Washington Birthplace National Monument is 1732 Popes Creek Road; Colonial Beach, VA 22443.

The Bald Eagle to be released on Monday – a bird hatched earlier this year – was found on the ground, unable to fly, near Montross on June 27. The eagle was examined by wildlife rehabilitator Diana O’Connor of Wild Bunch Wildlife Rehabilitation; the eagle was transferred to the Wildlife Center in Waynesboro on June 28 and admitted as patient #15-1348 [the 1,348th patient of 2015]. The eagle received a complete physical examination, including radiographs and blood work; the eagle was very thin, had damaged tail and wing feathers, and was infested with flat flies and lice. The vet staff administered fluids and started the eagle on a broad spectrum anti-parasitic medication.

For the first few days after admission, the veterinary team continued to provide fluids and hand-fed the eagle. On June 30, the bird was moved to one of the Center’s outdoor enclosures. A complete case history is available on the Center’s website, at:

The eagle has spent the past few months in the Center’s outdoor pens, slowly building up strength and stamina and gaining weight. Center veterinary and rehabilitation staff have been exercising the eagle for several weeks; they have determined that the eagle is able to fly well and is ready to be returned to the wild.

The eagle to be released on Monday has been outfitted with a transmitter, which will allow the eagle’s travels to be tracked. This will be the seventh Bald Eagle treated at the Center that has been released with a transmitter. Additional information about the other six eagles is available at: http://wildlifecenter.org/critter-corner/success-stories.

The Bald Eagle first appeared as an American symbol on a Massachusetts copper cent coined in 1776. The Great Seal of the United States, first used in 1782, includes the outstretched wings of a Bald Eagle. The Bald Eagle has been the national symbol since 1787 and has been frequently used in U.S. currency, stamps, passports, etc.

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. There are now more than 1,000 active Bald Eagle nests in the Commonwealth.

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. The Center is currently treating nine Bald Eagles, including the bird to be released on Monday.

Every year, about 2,400 animals – ranging from Bald Eagles to Black Bear cubs to hummingbirds and chipmunks – are brought to the Wildlife Center for care. The goal of the Center is “to treat to release” – to restore patients to health and return as many as possible to the wild.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia is an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine. Since its founding in 1982, the nonprofit Center has cared for more than 65,000 wild animals, representing 200 species of native birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The Center’s public education programs share insights gained through the care of injured and orphaned wildlife, in hopes of reducing human damage to wildlife.
In July 2011, the Center launched Critter Cam, which allows wildlife enthusiasts around the world to watch a variety of Center patients, including the eagle to be released on Monday. Patients that are currently “featured” on one of the three Critter Cam feeds, in addition to the Bald Eagle to be released on Monday, are seven rambunctious Black Bear Cubs, and three Wildlife Center permanent residents – Buddy, a Bald Eagle; Buttercup, a Black Vulture; and Maggie, a Peregrine Falcon. A link to Critter Cam can be found at www.wildlifecenter.org.

The George Washington Birthplace National Monument estate was originally settled by John Washington, George Washington’s great-grandfather. The future President was born there on February 22, 1732 and lived there until age three, returning later as a teenager. The 661-acre property, where Popes Creek joins the Potomac River, was established as a National Monument in 1930 and is a property of the National Park Service. The estate includes river shoreline, groves of trees, gardens, open fields, hiking trails, and the Washington family Burial Ground. Additional information is available at http://www.nps.gov/gewa/index.htm.

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Note to the Press: Media representatives are invited to attend the release. Please contact Randy Huwa at 540.942.9453 or at rhuwa@wildlifecenter.org to RSVP.

Photos of patients treated at the Wildlife Center, including the Bald Eagle to be released on Monday, are available. Please contact Randy Huwa at 540.942.9453 or at rhuwa@wildlifecenter.org.