Virginia Beach, Va. – A poisoned bald eagle returned to the wild in Virginia Beach Thursday to a cheering crowd at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
The bird was one of six bald eagles found poisoned in Northampton County in March – it was the only one of the six to survive.
All were found between March 8 and March 14 on Seaside Road in Birdsnest.
The surviving eagle was rehabilitated at the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro over the past two months.
Dr. Dave McRuer, Director of Veterinary Medicine at the Wildlife Center, released the eagle, seeing the silver lining in a sad situation.
“What is really nice is that at least one of them did make it and it was through the efforts of a lot of people who cared and supported the rehabilitation process,” Dr. McRuer explained.
As a crowd of onlookers cheered, McRuer counted to three before releasing the bird that soared into the sky above the wildlife refuge.
“The bird just took out of my hands and flew straight out and up and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Dr. McRuer explained.
Steve Coari was among those who came out to watch the release, saying “Watching a wild bird get released is the coolest thing in the world.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement is now offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever poisoned the bald eagles found in Northampton County.
Additionally, The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for that information.
Anyone with information concerning the the poisonings should call U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Chris Mina at 804-771-2883.