- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) - A bald eagle in Oklahoma flew untethered for the first time after having one of its wings surgically repaired.

The Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1GVIwst ) reports that the juvenile bird was released Tuesday from a boat ramp on Oologah Lake after recovering from surgery to repair buckshot wounds. The female eagle, which is believed to be less than 4-years-old, flew north across the Blue Creek Cove.

She was rescued in November in Delaware County and stabilized at a Wild Heart Ranch Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation before being transferred to the Tulsa Zoo. The eagle had to go through several weeks of physical training after surgery, including being tethered to a weight for flight strength and endurance training.

Annette King, director of the Wild Heart Ranch, said that when she looked at scans of the bird’s wing, she thought there was no way the eagle would fly again.

According to Kay Backues, director of animal health at the Tulsa Zoo, about 80 percent of predatory birds that are given to the zoo for rehabilitation do not heal enough for release because their injuries are too severe.

“This is not the first bald eagle we’ve seen that’s been shot,” Backues said. “Oklahomans have got to be better than that. I just cannot tell you how that makes me feel.”

There was a small crowd that turned up to watch the eagle’s release, and several shouted “good luck” and “go girl” as the bird took off.

“A wild bird is an athlete,” Backues said, noting that this bald eagle was successful in the wild prior to being wounded, so she will remember how to hunt despite time spent in captivity.

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Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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