Injured Bald Eagle rehabilitated and returns to flight
An injured Bald Eagle came home to Monteagle on Saturday. Last spring, the eagle was discovered on the ground, unable to fly. After spending months at the American Eagle Foundation (AEF) in Pigeon Forge, he was deemed ready for release, and over 100 gathered to watch. When his crate was opened, the young male — nicknamed “Cliff” —flew all the way across the lake as the crowd cheered.
In late May, the eagle had been spotted on the side of the road in Clifftops. Margaret Matens, a local TWRA wildlife rehabilitator, enlisted help to orchestrate its capture. According to Matens, the downed eagle could spread its wings and hop but could not take flight. Realizing the young male eagle would not survive if left on its own, she contacted TWRA officers Sgt. Brandon Selvog from Grundy County, and Marty Griffith from Marion County, who arrived within an hour. Armed with a long-handled net and several quilts, the group relocated the eagle in deep woods not far from the original sighting.
Matens said, “Marty, my sister, and I surrounded the eagle and tried to chase him towards Brandon, who had the net. The eagle hopped and flapped to elude capture. At one point, it landed in a creek, which was a blessing as the wet feathers slowed it down. After a ten-minute chase, Brandon was able to net the exhausted eagle. We wrapped him in quilts, disentangled its talons from the net, and gingerly eased him into a big crate.”
With the help of Ziggy’s Tree Rehabilitation Center in Tullahoma, “Cliff” was transported to the U.T. Vet School, the only facility in Tennessee whose veterinarians are permitted to treat a Bald Eagle. After the UT staff found no evidence of fractures or other injuries, they sent him on to the American Eagle Foundation (AEF), in Pigeon Forge, for further testing. In partnership with Dollywood, the AEF is an internationally recognized Bald Eagle conservation organization,
“Last week, we received word that he was coming home,” said Matens. Louann Partington, a volunteer with Ziggy’s Tree Rehabilitation Center, transported the eagle to Monteagle. Residents of Clifftops and members of the local community were invited to the eagle’s launch party, and cheers broke out when he rose from the ground and flew across the lake. Bald Eagles have been in evidence around the large lake in past years, though no nests have been spotted.