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December 13 08:52 AM

Injured bald eagle returned to the wild in Beauregard Parish

On Oct. 29 of this year, a Lafitte Harvesting work crew was conducting a thinning operation for Georgia Pacific in Beauregard Parish and saw something they don’t see every day.

An adult bald eagle was sitting between the rows of pine trees, and appeared to be sick or injured.

Davey Lafitte was very concerned and immediately shut down the operation and contacted the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).

Biologists were able to capture the bird and immediately transported the adult female to Heckhaven Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, where she was examined by Dr. Joe Stark of Lake Area Animal Hospital.

Dr. Stark found that the eagle’s bill was cracked and her nares (nasal passages) were clogged with blood, but she was otherwise healthy.

After investigating the capture site, LDWF zoologist Beau Gregory concluded that the bird was most likely struck by a vehicle while scavenging on the road.

The eagle spent a little over a week at Heckhaven recuperating, but she was cleared for release as soon as she was flying again.

LSU School of Renewable Natural Resources graduate student Nick Smith, who is currently researching the migratory patterns of Louisiana’s bald eagles, met with LDWF staff on Nov. 7 to gather vital information, measurements and biological samples from the eagle and band it for release.

The eagle was then returned to the site of her capture and released back into the wild.

Heckhaven Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is located in Lake Charles, La., and is a non profit 501c animal welfare organization, with federal and state rehabilitation permits. To contact the center for more information, call Suzy Heck at 337-477-6129 or visit their Web site www.heckhaven. com.

Bald eagles are found only in North America, and in Louisiana are normally found in coastal areas and inland on large lakes. They feed on fish, waterfowl, coots, muskrats and nutria, as well as carrion. They are protected by the Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940, which prohibits the taking, possession and commerce of both bald and golden eagles.

For more information on Louisiana’s bald eagles, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/ sites/default/files/pdf/fact_sheet_animal/32259 -Haliaeetus%20leucocephalus/ haliaeetus_leucocephalus.pdf.

The capture and release efforts were a collaborative effort that included LDWF staff from several divisions: Beau Gregory, Natural Heritage Program zoologist; Kori Legleu, Wildlife Division Technical Services biologist; Gail Toups, Region 5 administrative coordinator; and Sgt. Wendel Vaughan, Enforcement Division.

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