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Bald eagle soars free after more than a month of rehabilitation

Bald Eagle Release

EAGLE UPDATE: Earlier this afternoon, we released a Bald Eagle back into the wild at Wachusett Reservoir about a month after it was found injured in Sterling. Visit go.usa.gov/cfgw3 to read more about this eagle's story.

Posted by Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife on Tuesday, March 8, 2016

State environmental workers this week set free a bald eagle that had been found severely injured and was rehabilitated by veterinarians for more than a month.

Division of Fisheries and Wildlife officials brought the bird of prey to the Wachusett Reservoir in Central Massachusetts Tuesday, where it spread its massive wings and took flight from a cage and into the air.

State officials shared a video of the bird’s release on Facebook. The video had been viewed more than 28,000 times as of Wednesday.

On Jan. 23, the adult male bald eagle was found on the ground in Sterling by resident Anthony Papandrea.

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Papandrea alerted the town’s animal control officer, who later got in contact with Marion Larson,MassWildlife’s chief of information and education, according to officials.

The following day, Larson and her husband, Dr. Scott Handler, a veterinarian skilled in the handling of large birds of prey, arranged for the capture of the injured eagle, which couldn’t fly and had been hobbling around on Papandrea’s property and the nearby woods.

After chasing the eagle through brush and trees for 15 minutes, officials were able to toss a blanket over it. It was then placed in a cage, and transported to the Tufts Wildlife Clinic at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, in Grafton, according to a statement from MassWildlife.

After examining the eagle more closely, doctors determined that the bird suffered from a dislocated coracoid — a bone that attaches to the sternum. The doctors who treated the bird surmised that it had maybe hit something while flying, possibly powerlines.

Further inspection showed that the eagle had been previously banded by MassWildlife workers with both state and federal tags sometime in 2010, at a nest at the Quabbin Reservoir, when the bird was an eaglet.

The injured eagle was bandaged by veterinarians at the Tufts hospital, and rehabilitated for more than a month.

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“As the bird grew stronger, the bandage was removed and it was moved to successively larger cages where it could exercise and finally begin to fly,” MassWildlife officials said in a statement. “Kudos to the Tufts Wildlife Clinic for their care of the eagle.”

The bald eagle population has rebounded in recent years in Massachusetts. Last year, there were 51 confirmed breeding bald eagle pairs in the state, according to the Associated Press, marking the most pairings since the birds were reintroduced to the area in 1982.

Sightings in Boston — specifically near the Neponset River, Boston College, and parts of the Charles River — have been frequent.


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.