FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Monday, Feb. 16, 2015
Recovered Bald Eagle Released in Apopka
APOPKA, Fla. – A young bald eagle was released on the east shore of Lake Apopka Monday morning after nearly a week of recovery from possibly ingesting sickening toxins.
Members of the locally operated Avian Reconditioning Center invited Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer to help release the four-year-old female eagle along the shoreline at Magnolia Park on Binion Road. The bird is expected to resume a successful recovery after it was found sick and mostly grounded last Tuesday during heavy rainstorms at the Lake County Landfill off of County Road 561 in nearby Tavares.
“It was a thrill to be part of returning such a magnificent animal to its natural habitat,” Kilsheimer said.
The eagle likely became sick from ingesting something at the landfill or nearby area, said Carol McCorkle, founder of the Avian Reconditioning Center, which specializes in rehabilitation of birds of prey. The center rushed the bird last week to the Park Avenue Animal Hospital in Apopka to flush its system and remove any potentially dangerous items it may have eaten. The eagle then spent several days under close observation at the center.
“It was weak for a day or two until it started regaining strength by Thursday,” McCorkle explained.
The recovery was aided from fast response by members of Lake County’s landfill staff, who quickly recognized the sick eagle and contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The bird stood on the ground at the landfill, apparently weak, wet and unwilling to fly during heavy rain storms.
State wildlife officials asked county workers to carefully capture the eagle, said Eric Anderson, Lake’s senior landfill supervisor: “The first thing you want to do is not hurt the animal. The second is to not get hurt yourself.”
Anderson said most of the landfill area is covered to prevent exposure of solid waste to wildlife and other environmental risks. County workers also are cautious of birds and other animals.
The crew covered the eagle in a blanket and placed it inside a cage. State wildlife officials then took the bird to the Avian Reconditioning Center in Apopka – a facility started in 2001 on W. Lester Road in Apopka to help with raptor rehabilitation, education and research. The center has 24 birds permanently on site and various numbers of birds that are released throughout the year after temporary care (visit www.arc4raptors.org).
“It is always great when we you can get any of these raptors back into nature – when you can do it so fast makes it even more special,” McCorkle said.
About 70,000 bald eagles exist today in North America although the population once dwindled to only 500 nesting pairs across the United States. Contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or a wildlife rehabilitation center if you spot a suspected sick eagle.
The City of Apopka is a growing area ideally located 13 miles northwest of Orlando with major roadway access to most parts of Central Florida. The hometown community has more than 45,000 residents across 33 square miles and includes a diverse mix of industrial, commercial, agricultural and professional development.