Bald eagles aren't seen often, but one was found wounded at a residence near Oak Lawn, Illinois. Oak Lawn Animal Control Officer Barry Adamczyk was called to the residence to pick up the injured bird and admitted to being skeptical that it was a real bald eagle.
“I was shocked,” he said. “I didn’t believe I was looking at a bald eagle.”
Adamczyk had never encountered a bald eagle before but was able to catch the bird fairly easily. The bald eagle had been shot in the wing and was suffering from internal trauma, dehydration and malnourishment. The gunshot had also broken the eagle's wing.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are still investigating the incident and there is not much information about the person who shot the bald eagle. Wildlife officers are concerned that someone would shoot a bald eagle on purpose and are taking the investigation very seriously.
More than 3,000 bald eagles live in Illinois during the winter and the birds are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Act, and therefore are never legal to hunt.
Bald eagles were once on the Endangered Species list because they were on the brink of extinction. The populations were able to recover and on July 12, 1995 the bird was removed from the Endangered Species list and added to the threatened species list. Populations are still growing but the birds are still protected and considered threatened in most states.
The bald eagle found in Oak Lawn was treated at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn and underwent surgery on Feb. 27. After surgery the bird recovered quickly and was given both pain medicine and antibiotics to help it heal.
The bird will be kept at the center for at least a month and will slowly be introduced back into the wild through a process of allowing it to fly in several large enclosures that will keep the bird safe while rehabilitating it. It will also be introduced to the Willowbrook’s raptor flight facility before it is released back in the wild.
Image via Wikimedia Commons