A rehabilitated bald eagle was released Sunday in Simmons Bottom outside of Kenefick after parasites nearly took his life two months ago.
The young bald eagle, estimated to have been born last winter, was discovered on May 22 on a 2,500-acre ranch that borders the Trinity River in Liberty County. Unable to fly, the grounded bird was rescued by game wardens and placed in the care of Houston SPCA.
After determining that the eagle had no broken bones and was not suffering from the effects of lead poisoning, SPCA veterinarians determined that he had numerous internal and external parasites, and an infection that had weakened him.
“He had a higher white blood cell count, so we put him on anti-inflammatory medication and antibiotics. He was in a kennel at first and then we moved him into one of our flight cages when he was feeling better,” said Ann Moulder, a spokesperson for Houston SPCA. “Over the last two weeks, he has been very agitated and was ready to leave.”
Inside the 40 by 60-foot flight cage, the eagle was able to hone his flying skills.
“It was important for him to be able to bank and then recover. We think he will be fine,” Moulder said.
Michel Bechtel, who found the bird at his ranch, said the eagle is one of many living along the river that borders his property.
“We have several eagles there,” he said.
Not all eagle rehabilitations have a happy outcome. Of the five eagles he has rescued over the last six years since he was assigned to Liberty County, Texas Game Warden Jake Noxon said this was the first time one was healthy enough to release into the wild.
“The others were too injured or passed away on the operating table,” he said.
Eagle sightings in Southeast Texas have become more common as the species appears to be making a rebound after being on the edge of extinction.
“The bald eagle population is on a steady increase over the past few years. I do a daily patrol on the Trinity River and it’s not uncommon for me to see 4 to 5 eagles in a 30 to 40-mile stretch of the river,” Noxon said. “Bald eagles have been removed from the endangered list but are still a federally protected species.”
Noxon is hopeful that the rehabbed bird will thrive in the wild. As he was released in the same area where he was originally discovered, Noxon said the eagle should have a good understanding of his surroundings.
“The way he took off, I think he is heading right back to where he was located,” Noxon said.