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Golden eagle saved from death and rehabilitated in Utah flies home

The staff at Wild Friends Best Friends Animal Sanctuary spent months rehabilitating an injured Golden Eagle. Two weeks ago, he was released at Gunsight Point, not far from where he was found in Arizona.

The staff at Wild Friends Best Friends Animal Sanctuary spent months rehabilitating an injured Golden Eagle. Two weeks ago, he was released at Gunsight Point, not far from where he was found in Arizona. (Wild Friends Best Friends Animal Sanctuary)


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SALT LAKE CITY — A golden eagle grounded on the side of a road after suffering an injury in Fredonia, Arizona, on Feb. 28 soared back to life on Nov. 19 after months of care and rehabilitation in Utah.

Recovery: Bringing the eagle back

In critical condition, the raptor was brought to Wild Friends at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab. There, the bird was stabilized and onsite veterinarians performed emergency surgery.

X-rays showed a thin pouch connected to the eagle's throat was full of an unknown substance; it was also treated for lead poisoning.

A second surgery on the eagle was performed when the crop — a muscular pouch on the front of a bird's neck — came through the stitches from the first surgery, leading to more than a month of intensive care.

Once the raptor had recovered from both surgeries, it was time to rebuild his weakened flight muscles for return to its natural habitat.

The eagle could only manage one or two laps at first, at the 100-foot bird flight building in Kanab, but after several months of training, it could soar eight laps around the building without a break.

Going back home

Arizona Fish and Game selected Gunsight Point, Arizona, as the release site for the rehabilitated golden eagle. Gunsight Point is about 30 miles from where the injured bird was found.

Staff with Best Friends and Arizona Fish and Game watched as the golden eagle was released, soared, then disappeared into the surrounding red rock cliffs.

Did you know?

  • The golden eagle mostly eats rabbits, hares, ground squirrels, and prairie dogs.
  • The most common official national animal in the world, the golden eagle is the emblem of Albania, Germany, Austria, Mexico and Kazakhstan.
  • Learn more interesting facts about the largest, fastest, and most nimble of raptors at All About Birds.

What to do if you find an injured animal

Wild Friend offers the following tips should you encounter injured wildlife on the road:

  • Find your closest wildlife rehab center at AHNow.org and call for assistance in real-time, if possible.
  • Most rehab centers will ask that you have an animal contained, so it would help if you can get the animal in a box for transport, using either a large net or a towel (whatever you have on hand). Take extra care around the beak and feet.
  • Some centers have after-hour numbers, but if your closest center does not have an after-hours number you can call Wild Friends for 24/7 assistance.
  • Call your local Department of Wildlife Resources or Department of Natural Resources office for assistance if the animal is too dangerous or in a precarious position.
  • Stay with the animal to keep it at the scene or to prevent it from coming into contact with other animals.
  • Keeping wildlife is dangerous and illegal. You can be fined and possibly jailed for the offense. Wildlife centers provide a 48-hour grace period before seizing wildlife and charging a fine.
  • In addition to its licensed wildlife facilities, Wild Friends is also home to many species of adoptable animals in search of loving homes. Specifically, those that are equipped to care for species such as ducks, chickens, reptiles and small mammals.

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Southern UtahEnvironmentOutdoors
Curt Gresseth

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