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Injured eagle found in Lake Oswego may soon return to freedom

By Rick Bella
The Oregonian

An injured bald eagle captured in Lake Oswego is making such good progress under veterinary care that he could be a candidate for release in coming weeks.

An injured bald eagle captured in Lake Oswego is making such good progress under veterinary care that he could be a candidate for release in coming weeks.

That would be good news for several Lake Oswego residents, who have been calling the Audubon Society of Portland's Wildlife Care Center, checking on the bird's condition.

"They really care about him," said veterinarian Deb Sheaffer, care center manager. "They've taken him as their eagle."

The eagle, a 5- to 6-year-old male, has regained full use of the foot mangled in a fight with another eagle before his Feb. 28 capture. He has been taken off antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and has a healthy appetite.

Earlier this week, the bird, about nine pounds with a six-foot wingspan, was moved to a 100-foot-long flight cage, where he can regain his strength by flying longer distances.

"His appetite is very good," Sheaffer said. "Now, if he can build up his muscles again, we could consider releasing him. Of course, you never really know until right up to the end."

If he continues to progress, the bird, dubbed "No. 171" by the care center staff, would be released in Lake Oswego, Sheaffer said.

On Feb. 28, residents near Larch and Lee streets called 9-1-1 after a loud fight erupted between two eagles. Lake Oswego police and Oregon State Police troopers used leather gloves and a heavy blanket to capture the injured bird, which was flopping around under a rhododendron bush. The other eagle flew off.

Police took the injured eagle to the Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Tualatin, where Sheaffer later picked it up.

The incident was one of several involving bald eagles this year, marking a strong comeback of the national symbol in the Portland area.

In 1967, eagles were declared an endangered species, decimated by decades of using DDT, a pesticide that harmed not only adult birds but the eggs they laid. In 1972, DDT was banned in the United States, immediately increasing the eagle's survival rate.

The bald eagle was officially removed from the federal endangered species list in 2007. 

-- Rick Bella

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