In a Facebook post, the park authority said, “he is believed to be one of the pairs of eagles” nesting in the Vesper Island State Wildlife Refuge in the middle of Burke Lake. Officials released the bird at the lake since it was close to his home.
A resident found the bird Dec. 12 on a trail near the lake and called police. Animal control officers responded and took the eagle to a veterinarian.
Cristin Bratt, a spokeswoman for the Park Authority, said experts believe the eagle is a mature male about 5 years old. She said the bird was fully rehabilitated and expected to be fine.
The eagle had “five times the normal amount of lead” in its system, Bratt said.
Bratt said it’s not uncommon for injured wildlife to suffer from lead poisoning because anglers use lead tackle and the “fish eat those and then the eagles eat the fish, so they ingest that into their system.”
Burwell said it’s not clear how the eagle injured its shoulder. She said while the eagle was in her care, he was treated for the lead in his blood and put on anti-inflammatory medicine for his shoulder. After two weeks of resting, he was put into a flight cage to exercise his wings before being released.
“He got better every day,” Burwell said.
She said her group sees between five and 10 eagles with injuries each year and lead poisoning is “one of the more common injuries.”
Burwell said fewer than half are able to be rehabilitated and released into the wild. Other eagles often stay at nature centers, rehabilitation centers or zoos.
Bratt said warm weather over the weekend helped to bring out a large crowd to watch the eagle’s release. The eagle took a few jumps on the ground and headed toward the lake.