An American Bald Eagle was released back into the wild recently after it was rescued by TWRA Wildlife Officers and rehabilitated by the American Eagle Foundation.
TWRA boating officers Matt Swecker and Mark Williams rescued the eagle that had become entangled in a limb line on South Holston Reservoir on Aug. 25. They transported the bird to TWRA officers Brent Harrison and Kim Gibson who delivered it to the University of Tennessee Veterinarian Hospital. The eagle was treated and then transferred to the American Eagle Foundation who rehabilitated it into releasable condition. This bird is a great example of the success of eagle restoration and rehabilitation efforts in Tennessee.
The size and distribution of the Bald Eagle population in Tennessee before the continent-wide population crash in the 1950s to mid-1970s, is unknown. However, there were no known successful Bald Eagle nests found in the state between 1961 and 1983. Efforts, coordinated by TWRA to restore Tennessee’s eagle population began in 1980 and continued until 2003, and young eagles were “hacked”, a form of reintroduction, at several locations in the state. The first successful Bald Eagle nest was discovered near Dover, TN in the spring of 1983. Now, there are over 175 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles in Tennessee and most of these birds remain in the state year round. Individuals from more northern breeding populations migrate to Tennessee for the winter, arriving in late October, and peak numbers of 300 to 500 individuals occur in late January to mid-February.