The Southeastern Raptor Center and DNR employees will release this rehabilitated eagle at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 16 at Paradise PFA. The public is welcome to attend. Photo Credit: Southeastern Raptor Center

Public invited to June 16 release of rehabilitated raptor

Seeing bald eagles at Paradise Public Fishing Area is nothing new. But when Blaine Tyler, an employee at the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division PFA near Tifton, spotted an immature eagle on the ground near a Paradise boat ramp on March 2, he quickly realized this sighting was not the norm.

The bird at first showed little response to Tyler and couldn’t fly, said Noel Jackson, assistant manager at Paradise.

Tyler, a student at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, contacted PFA manager Charles West. The men soon caught the obviously injured eagle and took it to a rehabilitator at Valdosta State University. “They got it to the rehabilitator as quickly as possible,” Jackson said.

The rehabilitator made arrangements to transfer the bird to the Southeastern Raptor Center, part of Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.  Staff there said the 2- to 3-year-old bird was malnourished and very weak.

“It was too weak to perch,” said veterinary technician Liz Crandell.

Yet, with a good diet, care and exercise – including time with an adult eagle in a flight aviary – this young eagle has rebounded. And at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 16, Southeastern Raptor Center and DNR employees will release it back into the wild at Paradise.

The public is invited to the release, which will be done at the picnic area across from the PFA office (directions below).

This success story isn’t a first for Paradise.  In March 2009, staff and the Southeastern Raptor Center released an eagle the center had rehabilitated.  PFA employees found that bird, which had been shot, in November 2008.

Bald eagles are protected by state and federal laws.  Our national bird has recovered after becoming almost extinct across much of its range 40 years ago.  Surveys in Georgia this year documented nearly 160 occupied nesting territories and 116 successful bald eagle nests, up from 142 nesting territories and 111 successful nests last.

To reach Paradise from Tifton: Go east on U.S. 82 for eight miles to Brookfield. Turn right onto Whitley Road and travel approximately 100 yards. Take the first left onto Brookfield-Nashville Road and travel 1.5 miles. The PFA entrance is on the left. After turning into the PFA, drive about 7/10s of a mile to the PFA offices. The eagle will be released from the picnic area on the left, across from the offices.

Learn more about fishing and wildlife at Georgia’s public fishing areas.

Help support conservation of bald eagles and other nongame wildlife.

The mission of the Southeastern Raptor Center is to rehabilitate injured or orphaned raptors, and to educate the public.  Click here for more information.