Young bald eagle released back into the wild celebrates freedom July 4
3-year-old eagle undergoes surgery
to repair broken leg, released at Horseshoe Lake
PHOENIX — After a graceful half-mile flight across Horseshoe Lake, the 3-year-old bald eagle released back into the wild by Arizona Game and Fish Department and Liberty Wildlife was free once again.
It was a fitting conclusion for the bird that was found in February at a Queen Creek dairy suffering from a shattered femur. Left untreated the bird would have certainly died, yet four months later, a small group of onlookers watched in excitement as this national symbol glided low across the water’s surface, declaring its independence just days ahead of the July 4 holiday.
“As an agency, we strive to conserve and protect all of the state’s wildlife, but participating in something like this ahead of the Fourth of July is something special,” said AZGFD raptor biologist Kyle McCarty. “This eagle now has another shot at survival and in a couple of years, when it becomes of breeding age, it may go on to bolster Arizona’s growing bald eagle population. For us, every eagle counts.”
In 2016, a few miles downstream along the Verde River, McCarty placed numbered metal bands around the bird’s legs when it was a nestling. This past winter, the bird was presumingly healthy and flourishing until recently when it somehow shattered its left leg and was found on the ground.
X-rays taken at Liberty Wildlife showed the lower part of the bird’s leg was a shattered mess, requiring a 45-minute surgery to place a metal rod and screws to repair the