PA Game Commission Releases Eagles into Wild

| May 31, 2018

CRAWFORD CO., Pa. (EYT) – Within two weeks’ time, two bald eagles – one rescued weeks ago, the other nearly a year ago – were returned to the wild on State Game Lands 214 in Crawford County.

On Monday, May 21, PA Game Commission staff and rehabilitators released an eagle rescued as a grounded nestling in June 2017. Then on Wednesday, May 23, an 8 ½-week-old eaglet was placed with a set of foster parents after its Mercer County nest blew down in a storm that occurred on May 4. Both of these returns to the wild went off without a hitch.

“Diligence on the part of our field staff and close working relationships with rehabilitators have allowed us to successfully reintroduce two eagles to the wild,” stated Northwest Region Director Rich Cramer. “Special thanks go out to Deputy Game Warden Tom Jones for his quick actions in the recovery of the eaglet from Mercer County.”

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The young eaglet that lost its nest on May 4 in a swamp along Millbrook Road was on the ground when Deputy Jones arrived. Since there was no nest to return the eaglet to, Jones contacted Carol Holmgren at Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Saegertown. Holmgren and her staff took in the displaced eaglet, and after almost three weeks of monitoring and individualized care, the eaglet was cleared for reintroduction to a foster nest on State Game Lands 214 at Pymatuning Reservoir. Game Commission tree climbers would help complete the eaglets’ journey to a new nest and awaiting foster parents.

Biologist Tim Hoppe and habitat management worker Mark Kahrer had returned displaced eaglets to nests in the past and were called upon once again. Hoppe had scouted the new nest and determined that the two eaglets within it were about the same age as the eaglet they hoped to introduce, which would allow them to compete on even footing for food in the nest.

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Early on the morning of May 23, Game Commission Land Management Group Supervisor Chris Deal and Deputy Jones guided Holmgren and Game Commission Region Biologist Roger Coup to the nest site. Hoppe ascended the large maple tree and pulled up the eaglet, which had been wrapped in a blanket and carefully placed in a heavy-duty backpack tied to a rope. Hoppe removed the eaglet from the backpack and introduced it to its new siblings. The entire process took mere minutes, minimizing the stress endured by all eagles involved. For the once-grounded eaglet, it was a relatively quick return to the wild.

The adult bald eagle released on State Game Lands 214 on May 21 had a longer road to recovery.

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That eagle was found June 19, 2017, by several kayakers on the Connoquenessing Creek, near Evans City. It had fallen out of its nest and was not healthy enough to be returned. Game Warden Randy Pilarcik took the eaglet to the Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center, where Holmgren determined it had a bacterial infection and several deformed and damaged feathers. After 49 weeks of care and treatment, Tamarack Center volunteer Riley Walsh, Holmgren, and Land Management Group Supervisor Deal released the yearling female eagle near Pymatuning Reservoir.

In Pennsylvania, the bald eagle is protected under the Game and Wildlife Code, as well as the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Protection Treaty Act. As recently as 1983, there were as few as three nesting pairs of bald eagles statewide, all of them located in Crawford County.

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Today, Pennsylvania has nearly 300 nesting pairs.

Bald eagle recovery was fueled by the Game Commission’s reintroduction program, in which bald eagle chicks taken from Canadian nests were raised in captivity with minimal human contact, then released. Between 1983 and 1989, 88 eagles were released into Pennsylvania. The bald eagle was removed from the federal endangered species list in 2007 and was removed from Pennsylvania’s threatened-species list in 2014 due to its population gains.

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