Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Injured Bald Eagle Gets Medicare

Rescued bald eagle at Va. wildlife center has built up a sizable online fan base
NX, as she is known from the letters on her leg band, is a bald eagle who has spent her life in an ornithological version of “The Truman Show.” It began at the Norfolk Botanical Garden last March, where she and two siblings hatched in view of a webcam that had been trained on nesting eagles since 2006, attracting thousands of viewers here and abroad. When the chicks were just a month old, their mother was killed in a collision with a commuter plane at nearby Norfolk International Airport. (No humans were injured.) Fearing the father wasn’t up to single parenthood, the garden transferred the eaglets on April 27 to the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro.
Did they at least try to collect child support?
In July, more than 1,000 fans came to watch as NX and her brother and sister were released into the wild. NX flew only a few hundred yards and landed, apparently unwilling to leave. So she was kept at the center for one more month.
 There's always one like that in every brood.
When she finally left in August, she was well equipped to remain online. On her back was a 31 / 2-ounce cellular transmitter that relayed data on her location to cellphone towers. The center uploaded the information to its Web site so researchers and devotees could track her every move. Some days she flew 40 miles.

In September, she settled in the rural Northern Neck along the Chesapeake Bay, where cellular signals are spotty. So she wasn’t being tracked on Dec. 1, when a passerby spotted her injured by the side of a road — she had apparently been gorging on a deer carcass and was struck by a vehicle — and called local officials.
I wonder if carrying a cell phone around might have been partially responsible for her being unable to dodge the car.
Her prognosis is good, Clark says. The injuries she sustained to her neck, shoulder and wing are healing, and she has been moved to a small outdoor pen where she can hop and flap her way to different perches. Veterinarians hope she can be rereleased soon into the wild, with a transmitter so she can continue to stay in touch with her audience.
OK, time to be serious here for a minute (Or as Jonathon Leibowitz might say, "Clown nose off").  I like my eagles, and I don't really resent my tax money being spent to rehabilitate one like this BUT these are wild animals.  They live and die in the wild, and don't ask for a handout.  It makes us feel good to "save" one, but in the long run, unless the species is on extinctions door, it doesn't really matter.  Bald Eagles, having rebounded rather nicely in recent years, are not in that state.  Enjoy them in the wild, but don't fret excessively about the individuals.

And as for NX, she seems dependent and accident prone; maybe she'd be happier spending life in a zoo, or wild park where she could be used to educate kids.

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