Mandan News

Eagle released at Fort Lincoln

A rehabilitated bald eagle was released in the Fort Lincoln State Park on March 20. (photo by Dustin White)

A rehabilitated bald eagle was released in the Fort Lincoln State Park on March 20. (photo by Dustin White)

By Dustin White,
Mandan News, editor

The weather on March 20, the first day of spring, lifted the spirits of many in the community. It was the perfect day to get out with the family, and for some, that meant a trip to Fort Lincoln State Park to see a majestic sight: the release of a bald eagle.

In November, 2013, the zookeepers at the Dakota Zoo had received an injured bald eagle.

“He had an extensive foot injury and for awhile there we didn’t know if he was going to recover,” said Terry Lincoln, Zoo Director.

Surgery was required, and a toe had to be removed. With a bit of care and love, the eagle was set to return home.

On the day of release, the eagle appeared to be in good condition. While missing a toe, it was healthy enough to survive back in the wild. Which could not come sooner.

As soon as the eagle was removed from its transportation cage, it began biting at its handler’s hand.

“All along he was a feisty bird and had an aggressive attitude which is a great thing for eagles to have,” said Lincoln.

When the time came to see the eagle off, there was an excitement buzzing through the audience. Seeing the strong wings power the bird off into the sky caused many to stare in amazement, especially among the children present who stood transfixed.

Once to the sky, the eagle did a couple of circles, orientating itself, and flew off into the distance. While the event only lasted a few moments, it is a memory that many will keep for years to come.

The site of Fort Lincoln is often chosen for the release of rehabilitated eagles because of the habitat along the Missouri River. Around 18 injured eagles were seen at the Dakota Zoo last year.