Wildlife Center of Virginia to release Bald Eagle on Friday, March 23, 2018

The Wildlife Center of Virginia, a leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, will release a mature Bald Eagle on Friday, March 23 at 12:00 noon at Stratford Hall in Westmoreland County.  The eagle will be released by Ed Clark, President and Co-Founder of the Wildlife Center. 

The release is free and open to the public.  Individuals who wish to attend are asked to RSVP to the Center at rsvp@wildlifecenter.org.  The address for Stratford Hall is 483 Great House Road, Montross VA 22520.  Release participants should park at the Visitor Center; the eagle will be released at the oval in front of the Great House. 

In mid-February, Stratford Hall Collections Manager Karen Louvar was walking the Stratford grounds when she saw a Bald Eagle fall from a tree.  The eagle was unable to fly and was captured by a conservation police officer.  The eagle was transported to the Wildlife Center in Waynesboro and assigned Patient #18-0086 – the 86th patient of 2018. 

Upon admission, the eagle received a complete physical examination, including radiographs, by Dr. Monica Madera, the Center’s veterinary intern.  The eagle had a low heart rate, bruising on her keel, and foot abrasions.  The eagle received fluids, anti-inflammatories, and atrophine [to help increase the bird’s low heart rate].  The eagle’s heart rate stabilized; the bird was moved to a small outdoor enclosure for continued observation.  A complete case history is available on the Center’s website

In the last month, the eagle has continued her recuperation in outdoor flight pens and has built up strength and stamina.  The Center veterinary and rehabilitation staff have determined that the eagle is ready to be returned to the wild. 

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 hundreds 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.  During 2017, the Center admitted a record-setting 55 Bald Eagles.        

This year, the Center will treat about 2,500 patients – ranging from Bald Eagles to Black Bear cubs to hummingbirds and chipmunks.  The Center is currently treating four Bald Eagles, including the bird to be released on Friday.  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.  The nonprofit Center has cared for more than 70,000 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.  Animals that are currently “featured” on one of the three Critter Cam feeds are rambunctious Black Bears; a Bald Eagle patient; and Wildlife Center permanent resident Buddy the Bald Eagle.  A link to Critter Cam may be found at https://www.wildlifecenter.org/critter-corner/critter-cam-landing

Stratford Hall was home to four generations of Virginia’s noted Lee family and was the birthplace of Robert E. Lee.  The 1900-acre estate includes not only the historic Great House but also varied landscapes and three miles of nature trails.  Additional information about Stratford Hall is available at: https://www.stratfordhall.org.

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Note to the Press: Media representatives are invited to attend the release.  Please contact Lacy Kegley at 540.942.9453 or at lkegley@wildlifecenter.org to RSVP.

Photos of patients treated at the Wildlife Center, including the Bald Eagle to be released on Friday, are available.  Please contact Lacy Kegley at lkegley@wildlifecenter.org or at 540.942.9453.