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CROW offering care to eagle shot in Lehigh

March 29, 2011

It will take some time to heal, but whether an American bald eagle, shot and wounded near Lehigh Acres earlier this month, will ever fly again in the skies above Southwest Florida remains in question.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is seeking the public's assistance in finding whoever shot the mature eagle, while two conservation groups have offered a reward of $3,500 for information leading to an arrest.

According to the FWC, local residents first noticed the eagle on the ground on March 3, near the 3900 block of 20th Street SW in Lehigh Acres. At that time, it was not evident the bird had sustained gunshot wounds. The eagle remained on the ground until March 7, when a concerned citizen realized the bird was injured and took it to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Sanibel, where it is currently recovering.

"The eagle is in our (Intensive Care Unit) right now," Dr. Amber McNamara, clinic director at CROW, said on Tuesday afternoon. "We performed surgery on Day 3 (March 10). The patient is doing well at this point, and our ultimate goal remains release."

FWC investigator Greg Stanley believes the bird was shot sometime earlier that week, in the general vicinity of where it was rescued.

“The nearest known bald eagle nest is 3.8 miles from where the bird was rescued, and the injuries to the bird would have prevented it from traveling very far from where it was shot,” Stanley said.

The FWC is investigating the incident, and Stanley hopes someone will come forward with information.

“This is a callous act that cannot be tolerated," he added. "The bald eagle has recently come off the federal endangered species list and Florida’s imperiled species list as the result of decades of hard work by conservationists and a supportive public."

The Wildlife Alert Reward Association is offering a $1,000 reward in this case, and the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust has added $2,500.

Intentionally harming a bald eagle is a misdemeanor, punishable under federal law by up to a $100,000 fine and/or up to one year in prison. Anyone with information about this incident should call the Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-3922 or report it online at'> Those reporting violations may remain anonymous.

Article Photos

Following medical treatment at CROW, this American bald eagle is recovering from shotgun wounds suffered earlier this month in Lehigh Acres.

Fact Box

Facts about bald eagles

• Bald eagles in Florida begin building a nest or start gathering materials for a nest in late September or early October. The nesting season is prolonged. Eagles begin laying eggs as early as October or as late as April (nests that are built later in the season are mostly renesting attempts or nest built after the first attempt fails).

• Nearly all bald eagle nests in Florida are built within 1.8 miles of water. Territory size varies depending on habitat and prey density but is thought to encompass 0.6 to 1.2 square miles. Bald eagle nests are spaced apart to ensure sufficient food resources for nestlings and to raise young with minimal disturbance from other eagles.

• Eagle pairs often build more than one nest, which allows them to move to an alternate nest while remaining in their territory. Throughout their range, eagles maintain an average of 1.5 nests per territory, ranging from one nest to five nests.

• Eagles migrate northward between April and August and return southward from late July through late December.

• Bald eagles are opportunistic foragers, feeding or scavenging on a wide variety of prey. Primary prey of eagles in Florida includes various fish and waterfowl species.

• The record lifespan for a bald eagle in the wild is 28 years. Eagles follow a pattern typical of raptors, with lower juvenile survival followed by increasing survival to adulthood.

Source: FWC



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