MAINE — A 34-year-old bald eagle was rescued Friday by a Maine game warden. It is the oldest ever documented in the state's history.
The bird was banded in June of 1983 by the state Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife's former eagle biologist Charlie Todd who, for the past five years, has led the department's endangered species program.
The warden service got a call Friday reporting an injured bald eagle in the township of Trescott, located within 10 miles of Lubec in Downeast Maine. Warden Joe McBrine responded along with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officer Amanda Hardaswick.
Local lobsterman Wayne Jones assisted McBrine in locating the bird along the harbor shore, and McBrine was able to walk right up to it and capture it without any struggle.
A band on its leg was at first difficult to read, but while preparing to transport the eagle McBrine cleaned it off and submitted the tag number to an online database.
The information he got back was incredible: the bald eagle was banded as a newly hatched eaglet on June 21, 1983, on Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick, Canada. It was sighted on record only one other time — Edmunds Township in 1984 at less than a year old.
Wardens transported the eagle to Cherryfield and from there a volunteer driver took it the rest of the way to Avian Haven in Freedom for care under Marc Payne and Diane Wing. As of Monday, wardens said the eagle was doing well despite an injury to one of its wings, consistent with a fight with another eagle.
Avian Haven told wardens they plan to continue to rehabilitate the bird in hopes that they will soon be able to release it back into the wild.
Eagles in the wild generally only live 15-20 years, the department says. This one is a very unique case.
The department notes that in the 1970s, bald eagles were endangered and there were less than 30 nesting pairs in the state. Some 40 years later, the specifies is no longer on that list and it is estimated there are over 900 pairs throughout Maine.
The resurgence is something the department considers one if it's most remarkable conservation success stories.
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