GROTTOES, Va. (WHSV) – Back in March, the Wildlife Center of Virginia met an Augusta County animal control officer on a road in Middle River to rescue a young Bald Eagle. Now, several months later, the center will release the raptor on Thursday at Grand Caverns Park.
“Our best guess is that it was hit by a vehicle. We do believe that it may have been predisposed to being weakened or being less able to fly away quickly,” Alex Wehrung with the Wildlife Center of Virginia said. “During the exam process, the [eagle’s] blood result came back positive for lead toxicity.”
Wehrung says lead toxicity is pretty common and can be lethal in many cases for wild animals and they may ingest lead from carcasses left behind by hunters if they contain fragments of lead ammunition.
The Bald Eagle received treatment and rehabilitation prior to its release. Staff at the Wildlife Center had to be sure the eagle would be able to survive on its own which meant it had to be able to fly properly, feed itself, maintain stamina among other things.
Wehrung says the eagle is being released at the Grand Caverns because the space will be helpful and provides lots of trees as well as an adequate water source.
“We actually released a Great Horned Owl at that same site in 2018. We know it works, we know it is accessible to the public,” he added.
Experts say one way to keep wildlife from ingesting lead is to switch from lead-based to copper-based ammunition.
“If you are not a hunter, share the message,” Wehrung said. “Lead toxicity is an issue, but there are simple actions that everybody can take to help protect these eagles.”
Those interested in attending the Bald Eagle release August 19 can find more information by clicking here. The event at Grand Caverns Park is free and begins 1 p.m. at 5 Grand Caverns Drive. Everyone is encouraged to RSVP at email@example.com.
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