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Rescued eaglet returned to the wild after months recovering from killer bee attack

September 14, 2005

PHOENIX - An eaglet rescued from its nest, after being attacked by killer bees, was successfully placed back into the wilds of Arizona today.

The 27-week-old bald eagle is one of two eaglets rescued by Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists back in May, after an Africanized bee attack in the Bartlett Dam area of the Verde River, southeast of Cave Creek. The other eaglet actually prompted the bee attack by accident, while trying to learn how to fly on a branch that contained a beehive. That eaglet did not survive. However, this one is doing well. It spent more than three months recuperating at Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation in Scottsdale.

"The nestling was attacked during a critical time of growth and development for young bald eagles," says James Driscoll, head of the Arizona Game and Fish Department's bald eagle management program. "Fortunately, we were able to get the eaglet some great care, and the volunteers at Liberty Wildlife taught the bird how to fly, hunt for food, avoid predators, and carry out other behaviors of an adult bald eagle."

When the eaglet first arrived at Liberty Wildlife, it wasn't eating well and spent a lot of time resting in its cage. The nestling was in shock from hundreds of bee stings. In late June, it started showing signs of improvement and was transferred to an outdoor pen to be around other raptors at the facility. Flight and hunting training began in July.

"This is a very feisty female," says Liberty Wildlife Executive Director Megan Mosby. "Her testy behavior surfaced when we forced her to fly more than she wanted to, but we think this kind of behavior will serve her well in the wild."

The eaglet was set free in the Horseshoe Dam area, northwest of Cave Creek, and is expected to thrive, thanks to her training while in captivity.

Arizona currently has 39 breeding pairs of bald eagles. The Arizona Game and Fish Department has a nest watch program that monitors the progress of these raptors during their breeding season. This year's season produced 37 nestlings in our state.

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