DEAD HORSE POINT STATE PARK — Two Golden Eagles that have been rehabilitated for the last year were released Sunday.
“They came in within days of each other,” said Debbie Pappas of Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation.
The two birds, a male and female, are both about a year old. One of the birds was discovered in Carbon County and the other on Highway 191 near the Moab Airport.
“We got a dispatch call about an eagle that was trying to get itself onto the roadway,” said trooper Brian Evans, Utah Highway Patrol. “He didn’t look too well.”
The bird had been hit by a car. Not knowing what to do, Evans called Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation.
The birds were treated over the next several months. Fortunately, neither had injuries, but they did need to relearn survival skills and regain their health.
“Even though they have the innate desire to look at things moving and to grab ahold of them, we had to make sure they knew how to grab onto their targets and what their targets were,” said Pappas.
The birds quickly grew strong over the course of eight months. On Sunday, a group of onlookers stood 2,000 feet up on a cliff in Dead Horse Point State Park. The eagle that was named Evans after trooper Evans was released first.
“That’s probably a shame for the bird, but I feel honored about it,” said Evans.
Evans took off without a hitch, and the second eagle followed his lead.
“I’m blown away. That was so powerful, and I’ll probably never get over it,” said Molly Easton, a visitor from Virginia.
“I’ve commented several times that this is a happy time for us and an emotional time,” Pappas said.
It’s likely the eagles won’t stay in the same area they were released. However, they were released in what officials called "golden eagle terrain."