Southeastern Raptor Center to release bald eagle at Georgia’s Lake Allatoona Dec. 10

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A young bald eagle rehabilitated by the Southeastern Raptor Center at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine will be released back into the wild on Saturday, Dec. 10, on Lake Allatoona near Cartersville, Georgia, just north of Atlanta.

The public is invited to attend the 1:30 p.m. (EST) event which will be at Red Top Mountain State Park.

The eagle was delivered to the raptor center last July after kayakers found it with its left wing entangled in fishing line, said Dr. Seth Oster, an avian veterinarian at the college. A licensed wildlife rehabilitator and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources assisted in bringing the eagle to the center.

The bird was rescued on the Etowah River, not far from Lake Allatoona, and is scheduled to be released near the 1800s cabin site at Red Top Mountain State Park, on one of the lake’s peninsulas.

"No fractures were found, just large amounts of soft tissue trauma," Oster said. "It was treated conservatively and with cage rest, and bloodwork also showed no signs of underlying disease."

"After six weeks of rest, the eagle was moved to a flight aviary at the raptor center to begin rebuilding its strength," he said, adding that its flight ability indicates it is ready to be released back into the wild.

Biologists determined from its mostly brown plumage with some white mottling that the eagle was a first-year bird. Bald eagles don’t acquire a full white head and tail until 4 to 5 years old.

The raptor’s release coincides with the park’s annual Christmas at the Cabin celebration.

Visitors can also enjoy holiday music, pioneer crafts, period music and visits with Santa. Events are free and parking is $5.

The mission of the Southeastern Raptor Center is rehabilitation, education and conservation. The rehabilitation unit of the SRC takes in more than 400 injured or ill wild birds each year from Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama. Birds are generally brought by members of the public, a network of Southeastern rehabilitators and educational facilities, as well as state and federal agencies.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division is charged with conserving, enhancing and promoting Georgia’s fish and wildlife resources and outdoor heritage through science-driven research, management, regulation and education. The division’s Nongame Conservation Section, which conserves nongame (animals not legally hunted or fished for), rare plants and natural habitats, monitors bald eagle nesting through annual surveys.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.