The Wildlife Center of Virginia, a leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife released a young Bald Eagle Thursday at Claytor Lake State Park.
This juvenile Bald Eagle was found on August 15 - dull, unresponsive, and holding its feet in a clutched position - on the ground at a landfill in Dublin. The eagle was rescued by alert landfill workers.
The eagle was first treated at the Companion Animal Hospital in Blacksburg by Dr. Matt McCormick and then taken to the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center in Roanoke. The eagle was then driven up to the Center's clinic in Waynesboro.
At the VWC, the patient became the 1,905th treated during 2014. Center vets ran a variety of diagnostic tests on the bird and provided fluids and supportive care.
The eagle responded well and on August 17 was moved to an outdoor flight pens.
Center veterinary and rehabilitation staff have been exercising the eagle; they have determined that the bird 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 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.
Thus far in 2014, the Center has admitted 24 Bald Eagles; in addition to the bird released Thursday, the Center is currently treating seven Bald Eagles.