Injured eagle ready to fly again after rehab

HOUSTON The long rehabilitation process for 123 Green, as the eagle's chart reads, ended when the 8-pound adult was turned loose near Timpson in east Texas, about 180 miles southeast of Dallas.

The eagle was found in September by a rancher on his property in another area of east Texas, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News reported Sunday.

A bird conservancy in San Antonio removed a shotgun pellet from the bird's thigh. A wing was extensively damaged. After three surgeries, rehabilitation helped teach the eagle how to fly again.

"Imagine something like your wrist and something the size of your thumb going through it," John Karger of the Last Chance Forever Bird Conservancy in San Antonio said of the bullet wound.

Every year, the conservancy rehabilitates about a half dozen eagles in similar condition. Officials say they are generally harmed intentionally by ranchers or accidentally during a failure to recognize their presence.

"It's hard to point the finger at one group, but by and large it's people trying to protect their livestock," said Special Agent Jim Stinebaugh with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Endangered Species Act protected eagles from 1967 to August 2007, when their populations had reached 10,000 nests nationwide. The eagles are still federally protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, making it illegal to harm or kill them.

The misdemeanor is punishable by one year of jail time and a $5,000 fine. A second conviction can increase the fine to $25,000, add an additional year in jail and classify the offender as a felon.

"Now that they're delisted, the loss of one bald eagle isn't going to make a big difference to the population, but it is disturbing," said Tom Buckley, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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