Auburn University raptor center releases golden eagle in northwest Georgia

Lauren Jernigan prepares to release a golden eagle. The bird had been at the AU center for a year.

AUBURN – Auburn University’s Southeastern Raptor Center released a golden eagle back into the wild March 16 on Pigeon Mountain in northwest Georgia in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

“Rehabilitation of injured birds reminds people of the important role we have in protecting our wild heritage,” said Liz Crandall of the AU raptor center. “By releasing this magnificent eagle, we are fulfilling our obligations to the bird and doing our part to help ensure that our natural heritage is protected for future generations to experience and to enjoy.”

A hunter found the adult female eagle in March 2007 near Columbus, Miss. It was taken to Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and later transferred to Auburn’s Southeastern Raptor Center. The bird was too weak and emaciated to fly or stand. After two months of medical treatment, including physical therapy, the eagle regained full use of its legs and was placed in a flight aviary for rehabilitation.

The Auburn raptor center is working with two organizations from southwestern Pennsylvania — the Powdermill Avian Research Center of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the National Aviary in Pittsburgh — to track the eagle with a special transmitter placed on the bird. The Pennsylvania eagle research program is designed to identify threats and mitigation of threats to eastern golden eagles.

“By tracking this golden eagle, we will discover where it is from and how it moves through the Appalachian region. When placed on a map of development in these regions, this information will identify the growing threats eagles face in the eastern United States,” explains Michael Lanzone of the Powdermill Avian Research Center. “With increasing human populations and resource consumption, we need to collect these types of data to identify how humans and wildlife can coexist over the long term.”

The groups are funded by a Pennsylvania state wildlife grant to study the potential effects of wind turbines on the wintering and migration of eastern golden eagles. To track a migrating eagle, see www.aviary.org

“We enjoy collaborating with other centers with common interests,” said Jamie Bellah, director of Auburn’s Southeastern Raptor Center. “These relationships and our attention to the missions we share with these centers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are very beneficial to achieving our goals.”

The Southeastern Raptor Center, part of Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine, has a mission of rehabilitating injured, ill or orphaned raptors, educating the public, and researching new aspects of raptor medicine. Anyone wishing to report an injured, ill or orphaned raptor in the wild should call (334) 844-6347 or (334) 844-4690. Anyone wanting information about an educational program should call (334) 844-6943.

Contact: Liz Crandall, (334) 321-7760, (crandea@auburn.edu), or
Charles Martin, (334) 844-9999, (marticd@auburn.edu)