From: Wilson Ring, Associated Press
Published July 25, 2006 12:00 AM

Last Bald Eagle Released in Vermont Program

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The last bald eagle that was part of a program to bring the national symbol back to Vermont was set free Monday when the doors of the box where it had lived for the last two months were opened by biologists.

As of midday Monday the eagle, brought to Vermont earlier this year from Maryland, had still not flown away from the treetop box where it had lived since it arrived, said Margaret Fowle, a biologist with the Montpelier office of the National Wildlife Federation.

The eagle, known to biologists as DK, was the last of 29 to be released as part of a three-year program in Vermont aimed at restoring eagles in the last state in the continental United States that did not have at least one breeding pair of the birds.

"It's been a really exciting and successful project," said Fowle, a biologist. "It's great to see the success, but it's a little bit sad, just thinking about the fact that we won't be doing it again."

Nine other eagles have already been released this year from the hack tower where the birds were introduced to Vermont by being able to look over the Dead Creek area without leaving their cage. They were fed by volunteers who would push food in from the back of the cage without being seen.

The other birds brought to Vermont this year have since abandoned the hack box and flown off on their own, but they will remain in the area, probably through the end of the summer. Volunteers will continue to feed them, but the food put out will be reduced as time goes on.

All nine birds that have already been released were near the hack box on Monday, said Fowle.

"All have been located every day. There is no indication that any of them are not doing well," she said. "I think this fall will be the real test for that when we stop feeding them."

As the eagles become self sufficient they will fly off and live on their own.

The long-term goal of the project is to have some of the eagles return to Vermont as adults and raise their own broods of young. But eagles don't reach maturity until they are four or five years old so it will probably be at least two more years before any of those released in Vermont can be expected to nest, said Fowle.

Five of the birds released this year have been outfitted with radio transmitters to help biologists track their movements.

Source: Associated Press

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