Last week Dale Brown was out walking on his property near Dry Fork, Kentucky, when he heard a noise and went to investigate. He found a bald eagle caught in a steel coyote trap. Someone had put the trap out with pork in it as bait; Dale and others guess that the eagle was hungry and trying to retrieve the meat.
One of the eagle’s claws was caught in the trap. Brown called Frank Campbell with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Campbell called Mitch Whitaker, a master falconer who works at the Letcher County Cooperative Extension Office.
[imgcontainer] [img:Whitaker2eagle530.jpg] [source]Teresa Collins[/source] Master falconer Mitch Whitaker prepares to release a young bald eagle back to the wild in Whitesburg, Kentucky, Wednesday. [/imgcontainer]
The eagle was transported to the extension office in Whitesburg where Whitaker operates a raptor rehabilitation program. There are currently a red tailed hawk and a barred owl at the facility.
[imgcontainer] [img:Barred-Owl-and-Red-Tailed-Hawk530.jpg] [source]Teresa Collins[/source] Chris Caudill holds a barred owl and Jason Brashear, Letcher County’s 4-H director, handles a red tailed hawk. Both birds are being nursed back to health through the county’s raptor rehabilitation program. [/imgcontainer]
Whitaker took the eagle to a veterinarian in Hazard for an evaluation. Only minor damage to one claw was found. Whitaker brought the eagle back to Whitesburg to be released. A crowd of over 200 people gathered Wednesday afternoon, February 2, to witness the event.
Before releasing the eagle, Whitaker thanked God for such a beautiful bird and quoted the Prophet Isaiah saying. “‘Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary and walk and not be faint.’ Through His strength we are able to release this bird today.”
[imgcontainer] [img:Eagle-just-released530.jpg] [source]Teresa Collins[/source] Aloft again, a bald eagle that was caught in a baited coyote trap near Dry Fork, Kentucky, takes wing. [/imgcontainer]
Whitaker believes the eagle is about two years old and may have been blown off its migratory course by a storm. (Bald eagles don’t develop their distinctive white heads until age four.)