- Last Updated on Friday, 14 December 2012 15:36
- Published on Thursday, 13 December 2012 15:32
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The Wildlife Center of Virginia, a leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, released a bald eagle on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 11 a.m. at the Land’s End Wildlife Management Area, near Port Conway in King George, Virginia.
An animal control officer in King George County picked up a mature bald eagle – an eagle that had reportedly been fighting with another eagle on Nov. 11. The injured eagle was taken to a local permitted rehabilitator. The eagle was admitted to the Wildlife Center on Nov. 13 and was assigned Patient Number 12-2554 – the 2,554th patient admitted to the center in 2012.
Upon admission, Dr. Rich Sim and the veterinary treatment team examined the bald eagle, thought to be a male. The eagle’s right elbow was bruised; the eagle was placed on a course of anti-inflammatories and pain medications. The bird showed steady improvement; it was moved to a small outdoor enclosure on Nov. 16 and to a large flight pen on Thanksgiving Day. The center’s rehabilitation staff has been exercising the eagle in the flight pen, gradually building up the bird’s stamina. The eagle is flying well; after reviewing results from blood work done on Dec. 10, center veterinarians have cleared #12-2554 for release.
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 2012, the center has admitted 36 bald eagles.
Every year, about 2,500 animals – ranging from bald eagles to chipmunks – are brought to the Wildlife Center for care. “The goal of the center is to restore our patients to health and return as many as possible to the wild,” Clark said. “At the Wildlife Center, we treat to release.”
The Wildlife Center of Virginia is an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine. The center marked its 30th anniversary on Nov. 9. Since its founding in 1982, the nonprofit center has cared for more than 60,000 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, a live online broadcast through the center’s website. Critter Cam has allowed wildlife enthusiasts around the world to watch a variety of center patients, including #12-2554. During its first year of operation, the Critter Cam site has been visited more than two million times. A link to Critter Cam may be found on the Center’s homepage – www.wildlifecenter.org.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ Land’s End Wildlife Management Area, a 460-acre site, is situated on the Nanzatico Bay of the Rappahannock River. The Area lays claim to hosting the densest Bald Eagle breeding population in the lower 48 states. Additional information about Land’s End, including directions, is available at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wmas/detail.asp?pid=5.