Injured Golden Eagle released into wild after 9-month recovery

Nov 30, 2022, 4:02 PM | Updated: 4:15 pm
The eagle is coming out of a cage, released into the wild....
The Golden Eagle was thrilled to be released back into the wild after 9 months of rehabilitation care at Best Friends Animal Society's Wild Friends in Kanab, Utah, on November 19. (Best Friends Animal Society)
(Best Friends Animal Society)

KANAB, Utah — A Golden Eagle was released into the wild after spending several months at Wild Friends of Best Friends Animal Society recovering from serious injuries.

He was found grounded on the side of a highway on Feb. 28 in Fredonia, Arizona.

He was in critical condition when Arizona Fish and Game took him to Wild Friends for an emergency life-saving surgery. Best Friends said an unknown material was found in his crop, a thin-walled pouch connected to the esophagus.

Though they initially thought the bird was hit by a car, Lauren Ross from Wild Friends said they believe he was suffering from lead poisoning.

After the first surgery, his crop began to come through the stitches, so veterinarians performed an additional surgery and kept him in intensive care for over a month.

The eagle is perched on a wood log after surgery.

After the anesthesia from surgery wore off, the eagle was bright and alert. (Best Friends Animal Society)

But when he was recovering from his injuries his flight muscles weakened from inactivity.

Best Friends worked to rehabilitate the eagle in the 100-foot bird flight building they have. He could only fly a lap or two in the beginning but after several months of training in rehab, he was able to fly higher and for eight laps at a time.

Finally, he was ready to go home to the wild. He was taken to Gunsight Point as a release site near where he was found. Once released, he soared into the distance, disappearing in the red rock cliffs.

“To drive him out and actually get to release him into his home turf was amazing,” Lauren Ross said. “after working with him so much over the last eight months, to get him to this point was really rewarding.”

Abby Feddern from the Arizona Game and Fish Department said birds migrate through the area north of the Grand Canyon often, but because it is very remote, there isn’t much help or resources that can treat raptors of that size. “This is a good success story for us,” she said.

(Courtesy: Best Friends Animal Society) After 9 months of rehabilitation and care at Best Friends Animal Society’s Wild Friends in Kanab, Utah, this Golden Eagle (ID GOEA02282022) was released back into the wild on November 19 in Arizona. (Courtesy: Best Friends Animal Society) After 9 months of rehabilitation and care at Best Friends Animal Society’s Wild Friends in Kanab, Utah, this Golden Eagle (ID GOEA02282022) was released back into the wild on November 19 in Arizona. Lauren Ross with the eagle as he recovered from surgery.
(Courtesy: Best Friends Animal Society) After 9 months of rehabilitation and care at Best Friends Animal Society’s Wild Friends in Kanab, Utah, this Golden Eagle (ID GOEA02282022) was released back into the wild on November 19 in Arizona.

Wild Friend offers the following tips should you encounter injured wildlife on the road:

  • Find your closest wildlife rehab center at AHNow.org and call for assistance in real time, if possible.
  • Most rehab centers will ask that you have an animal contained, so it would help if you can get the animal in a box for transport, using either a large net or a towel (whatever you have on hand). Take extra care around the beak and feet.
  • Some centers have after hour numbers, but if your closest center does not have an after-hours number you can call Wild Friends for 24/7 assistance on transporting an animal and finding a center near you at (559) MED-WILD.
  • Call your local Department of Wildlife Resources or Department of Natural Resources office for assistance if the animal is too dangerous or in a precarious position.
  • Stay with the animal to prevent it moving from the scene or coming into contact with other animals.
  • Keeping wildlife is not just dangerous, it’s illegal. You can be fined and possibly receive jail time for the offense. Wildlife centers provide a 48-hour grace period before seizing wildlife and charging a fine.

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Injured Golden Eagle released into wild after 9-month recovery