Rehabilitated Golden Eagle, James Dean, to be released over the Rio Grande with a send off from Cherokee actor Wes Studi

When Lori Paras arrived at the edge of the Río Pueblo gorge Sunday morning (April 28), the golden eagle in her lap was as calm as a docile kitten. After being nursed back to health, the eagle was re-released into the wild by American Indian actor Wes Studi in front of a crowd of dozens of onlookers.

Just before the release, the eagle and Studi posed one last time for the cameras. Studi then raised his arms and the eagle began flapping its wings as it dropped below the edge of the gorge. Seconds later, the bird was gaining altitude to the applause of the eager crowd.

“It’s a bittersweet thing,” said Paras, who spent weeks rewrapping bandages on the eagle’s wounded feet, as she watched the eagle soaring at the far end of the gorge.

The eagle, nicknamed James Dean, was rehabilitated at the Santa Fe Raptor Center after running into a power line near White Sands last September.

Sunday’s event was meant to attract attention to the Raptor Center, a nonprofit that cares for injured birds until they’re healthy enough to return to the wild. According to the organization’s most recent tax filing, the center’s expenses outpaced its revenue from donations by $8,500. Paras said she was averaging two to three new birds coming in to the center each week, and she hoped to attract new donors to keep up with the volume.

Ellen Regan of San Cristóbal was among those who came to watch the release Sunday. “It just brightens my soul,” Regan said when asked what she thought of the event.

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Studi, known for his roles in “Avatar,” “Dances with Wolves” and “Last of the Mohicans,” said the eagle weighed about as much as a bag of sugar. He said he was surprised by how gracefully it took off from his hands.

Studi, who now lives just outside Santa Fe, said he agreed to release the eagle to help the Raptor Center’s cause.

Paras said the eagle released Sunday was 2 years old and able to hunt on its own. Paras said the release location was chosen because it’s already a proven habitat for other eagles.

“There are eagles in this area and they’re nesting, but he’s a juvenile so they won’t chase him away,” Paras said.

Before it was let go, the eagle was outfitted with a tracking device that will allow Paras and others to follow its movements. Paras said knowing that the eagle is moving and doing well gives her peace of mind, but she also worries that something may happen, something she might prefer not to know about.

“We’ll hope for the best,” she said.

VIDEO Wes Studi releases a golden eagle into the Rio Grande Gorge

Responses to "Wes Studi releases a golden eagle into the Rio Grande Gorge (Video)"

  1. Unknown says:

    I think it's GREAT that he was willing to do this. There are many people that like Wes Studi and because of that they might help the Santa Fe Raptor Center. I hope all that see & read this will help the cause .
    Walk in peace and have a Great day ~ AHO

  2. Unknown says:

    Good for you Mr Studi

  3. Anonymous says:

    I just donated a small amount to the Santa Fe Raptor Center. If anyone would like to donate, you can do so here:

  4. Anonymous says:

    Way to go Wes!!!

  5. timothy says:

    it's wonderful that he was rehabbed and I understand their need for publicity/donations but that is a HORRIBLE way to release an eagle. I have several friends who do wildlife rehab and you NEVER throw a bird you open the carrier and let them come out on their own and take flight. you just never know what could happen and it could be a disaster!

  6. Unknown says:

    One of my favorite actors wish I could meet him

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