Rehabilitating, releasing the bald eagle

Published 7:13 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2018

On Saturday a young, rehabilitated bald eagle took flight from Pyne Road Park as the culmination of a four-month stint at Auburn University’s Southeastern Raptor Center. The 18-week-old bald eagle had reportedly fallen out of a nest in Thomas County in April, and was admitted to the Raptor Center shortly after.

The release of the young bald eagle is a testament to the success of a decades-old conservation act, which has led to the resurgence of the bald eagle population across the country.

Auburn’s Raptor Center, which works with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, takes in approximately 400 raptors each year from Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. The center has been and continues to be a vital cog in the revitalization effort of the bald eagle population in Georgia and the continental United States as a whole.

The bald eagle, the symbol of American democracy and patriotism, was declared endangered in Georgia in 1974, the result of deforestation and chemicals found in the water supply that were harmful to the raptors. This ruling came on the heels of the Endangered Species Act, which was passed by Congress in 1973 and was passed with the intent to provide states with funds to allocate toward conservation. As a result of this act passed in the 1970s, the bald eagle population has rebounded tremendously in the intermittent 35 years. When the law was passed, there were less than 500 active nests in the continental United States, and an active bald eagle nest was not found in Georgia for 10 years during one stretch.

In 2017, 218 occupied nests were found in Georgia alone.

This is a resounding win for conservation efforts, both locally and across the country. The release of a young bald eagle at Pyne Road Park on Saturday is a local example of a country-wide initiative that has paid tremendous dividends for decades.