SUSSEX, NJ (CBS) – An injured bald eagle that was rescued from a New Jersey backyard in December has been released back into the wild.
Residents first noticed the eagle, who was later named Lily, hanging around in Pittstown, New Jersey.
Neighbors began to notice the eagle did not move from a tree for several days, so they called wildlife rehabilitation experts from The Raptor Trust to investigate.
It was determined Lily suffered lead poisoning, broken bones and significant tissue and nerve damage as the result of a shooting.
Lily received multiple rounds of lead poisoning treatment – or “chelation” – and had several surgeries to treat the damaged tissue and broken bones.
Now nine months later, Lily has been released back into wild at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge in Sussex, New, Jersey.
Officials with The Raptor Trust say it turns out Lily, who was named by a young girl in the Pittstown area, is actually a four-year-old male.
Raptor Trust director, Chris Soucy commented, “This bird has some challenges to face when it returns to the wild, for sure. While its leg has healed fairly well, there is some lingering nerve damage. However, it is an experienced adult bird. It has survived in the wild for several years already, it flies really well and it knows what it has to do to hunt, scavenge and live in the wild. Both of his other options – a life in captivity or euthanasia – are really lousy options. He’s ready to go and now and we have an obligation to give him his chance.”
Avian Wildlife Center Director, Giselle Smisko, adds, “It took a team effort to get this bird back on his feet. Returning him to the wild is the result of everybody’s (including the eagle’s) determination to succeed. We chose the protected habitat of the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge to give him a good start of what we hope will be a long life. It was a beautiful sight to see him spread his wings and fly free again.”
The US Fish and Wildlife service has been conducting an investigation into Lily’s shooting.
A reward of $50,000 is being offered.