Rehabilitated bald eagle set for release on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, in south Georgia

Published: November 08, 2017
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Auburn University’s Southeastern Raptor Center and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, will return a young, healthy bald eagle to the wild Saturday, Nov. 11, at Lake Park, Georgia.

The release, which coincides with Veterans Day, is set for 2 p.m. EST at Grassy Pond, a 500-acre public recreation area operated by Moody Air Force Base just north of the Georgia/Florida line. The event is open to the public. Admission to Grassy Pond is $5 per vehicle for up to six people, and $2 per additional person. There is no charge for Department of Defense cardholders.

The Southeastern Raptor Center rehabilitated the bird. DNR’s policy is to return rehabbed eagles to the area where they were found. A citizen found this immature bald eagle near Lake Park in April, and DNR officials worked to get it to the raptor center, a division of Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The raptor was “emaciated, dehydrated and infested with parasites” when it arrived at the center on April 23, said Dr. Seth Oster, an avian veterinarian.

“There were no underlying causes, such as a serious injury, found for the eagle’s condition,” he added. “It is suspected the bird was a recent fledgling that hadn’t learned the skills to provide for itself.”

DNR officials said it’s likely the eagle came from a nest in the Lake Park area.

Center staff and volunteers rehabilitated the eagle (case No. 2017-089), to ensure it is healthy enough to survive on its own in the wild.

Former center volunteer Katy Hyland, now a veterinary technician at Auburn’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, will release the eagle as a thank you for her work at the center. “I volunteered there from 2014 until this past May,” she said. “As a volunteer, I did everything from cleaning cages to feeding and medicating birds.

“I think I started handling eagles in 2015 and [when I became a] student worker, that was an everyday job as volunteers are not allowed to handle them.

“I graduated from Auburn in May and now work for the college’s Emergency and Critical Care Service [in the Teaching Hospital] as a technician/nurse,” Hyland added. “The raptor center was a rewarding experience, especially when we got to do releases. I am thankful to Dr. Oster and Dr. [Jamie] Bellah. Throughout my studies at Auburn, it consistently brought me joy and kept me going. I would say it was one of the best jobs I have ever had!”

A complete record of the eagle’s care can be found online. To learn more about Grassy Pond, go to, or call 229-559-5840.

The College of Veterinary Medicine is the South's original and nation's seventh oldest veterinary medical program, celebrating 126 years. We prepare individuals for careers of excellence in veterinary medicine, including private and public practice, industrial medicine, academics, and research. The college provides programs of instruction, research, outreach, and service that are in the best interests of the citizens of the state of Alabama, the region, the nation, and the world.