Wildlife group needs help to rehabilitate bald eagles in state

In an effort to keep bald eagles in Mississippi, a local wildlife group is looking for money for flight cages.

The Wildlife Care and Rescue Center nurses a variety of wild animals back to health so they can return to the wild and, most recently, the organization received a call about a bald eagle with a gunshot wound in Stone County. The flight cage would provide the final stage of rehabilitation for the bird.

Alison Sharpe, director of the center, said when bald eagles in Mississippi reach the final stage of treatment, they are sent to another state with a flight cage.

"We want to be able to do that final stage here," Sharpe said. "In the state of Mississippi, there is not one flight cage for eagles."

The cage allows the eagle to practice flight before it is released into the wild. The cages are regulated by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and are generally 100 feet long, 20 feet across and 16 feet high to give the bird room to fly. The cost of the cage is about $20,000.

Sharpe said there is an increase in the presence of bald eagles in the state and she wants to keep them here. Since 2008, her organization has rescued nine wounded bald eagles.

Alison Sharpe, right, and Billy Payne of the Wildlife Care and Rescue Center perform physical therapy in January on the wing of a wounded bald eagle that the nonprofit group is rehabilitating. The eagle was found shot in Stone County. State and federal agencies have offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to its arrest. A member of the rescue center, based in Biloxi, is caring for the bald eagle at her Jackson County home. The bird is being monitored by a Hancock County veterinarian.

The most recent eagle rescue came from Wiggins on Jan. 20. The eagle was shot in the left wing and was half its normal weight when the center arrived to pick it up.

Bald eagles are federally protected and the maximum penalty for shooting or killing one is $15,000 and

up to a year in jail for the first offense.

The eagle is now receiving daily physical therapy at the rescue center's intake facility in Bay St. Louis and has nearly returned to its normal weight.

In addition, Sharpe is keeping the eagle at her home in Jackson County so she can monitor and feed it.

The Wildlife Care and Rescue Center rescues about 500 animals each year, and most of the rescues are birds. The increasing number of calls has brought the need for expansion. Sharpe said Gautier donated a facility to the center to add a Jackson County intake site to the organization. She plans to have the facility -- a double-wide trailer next to the Jackson County Animal Shelter -- opened by this spring.

"There was a need there and we support what they do there so as mayor and council and city administration, we were glad to be able to step in and help them out where they could get good use out of it," said Gautier Mayor Tommy Fortenberry.

Sharpe is hoping that with a new facility and future funding, she can help keep bald eagles in Mississippi.

"I think it's really important that we try to keep these eagles in our state since they're making a comeback and to educate people," Sharpe said. "Education is always going to be the key to what we do."(SOURCE)

Anyone interested in donating to the Wildlife Care and Rescue Center can contact Sharpe at 669-2737.

Responses to "Wildlife group needs help to keep bald eagles in state"

  1. Unknown says:

    I hope they find the bastard that would shoot this beautiful bird! They need to string the jerk up and shoot him in the ass!

  2. Anonymous says:

    They should make the person who shot this magnificent animal suffer the cost of the cage

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