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NORTH STRABANE TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Bald eagles, once endangered, are thriving and our area, and Thursday, the Pennsylvania Game Commission set one free after nursing it back to health.

Watching an eagle take flight is an amazing sight.

“She’s pretty magnificent,” wildlife rehabilitator Beth Shoaf said. “She’s really come a long way since the day you brought her in. I’m happy.”

Wildlife rehabilitators have been working with the eagle since early July when she was found in distress near Canonsburg Lake in North Strabane.

“Getting her from where she was, which was sick, to the point now where she can be released and happy is everything to me,” one Game Commission officer said.

“From my observation of the bird and how clumsy she was when we first got her into the flyway, and the way she would hit a perch and stumble and hit a perch and fall…” Shoaf said. “My suspicion is she was making one of her early forays from the natal nest, and she was not real coordinated, and somehow she blundered and came to the ground and hit hard enough to maybe knock herself a little silly.”

The young eagle was found near an active nest. An officer said that even though they did have to intervene, she still had an excellent chance at survival.

She was taken to a facility in Youngwood and treated for dehydration.

“She’s really strong though,” Shoaf said. “She’s been flying multiple loops around our continuous flyway.”

She’s been slowly regaining her strength and Thursday, she was strong enough to be put back in the wild.

“Every time we can send something back into the wild, especially something… yes, I love the sparrows as much as I love the eagles, but this is important because they’re becoming more common in our area, it’s causing people to think more about the natural world,” Shoaf said.

The eagle was able to fly free, strong and alert.

“To see this, it makes everything worthwhile,” Shoaf said, “because not everything that comes into the rehab center makes it back out again.”

Veterinarians worked with the rehabilitator to make sure the eagle was given a full check-up. There were never any broken bones, and a blood test showed the eagle did not have any signs of lead poisoning, which often causes neurological symptoms in eagles.

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