MARQUETTE — A feisty immature bald eagle ready for release was pulled from a box Tuesday before a crowd gathered next to the Superior Dome in Marquette.
The bird had been under treatment for lead poisoning since Dec. 7 when the Department of Natural Resources brought the bird to the Chocolay Raptor Center. Jerry Maynard says the bird was lethargic.
“This bird, we did our initial exam, couldn’t find anything obviously wrong with it, hit by a car, injury. It was past the season for west nile so we suspected possible lead poisoning,” Maynard said. “We called the head of the Wild Instincts rehab in Rhinelander, Wis., and he said, ‘yeah it could, bring it down.’ So, within 24 hours of the bird being rescued it was down there.”
The bird was found to have higher lead levels than could be measured. Maynard says it was likely the eagle was poisoned while feeding on a deer shot during the hunting season. Bob Jensen held the eagle for photos before allowing the bird to fly free.
“It was thrilling, absoultely thrilling to let a big animal like that go back into the wild. It’s just a magnificent creature. Just gorgeous,” he said.
As the crowd cheered the bird flew toward open water on Lake Superior. Maynard and Jensen say they hope the eagle will find food in Superior and the nearby Dead River and continue to thrive.