Independence gets freedom on Fourth of July
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE – Latta Plantation gave freedom and liberty this Fourth of July to an American bald eagle appropriately named Independence.
Rehabilitated by Carolina Raptor Center staff after it was brought to them suffering from a gunshot wound and lead poisoning, Independence was released back into the wild from the shore of Mountain Island Lake on Monday morning and wasted no time in winging away.
Carolina Raptor Center staff member Carly Orlando did the honors of letting the eagle go and wept tears of joy as she watched it take off.
“It’s been such an honor working on this project,” she said.
Carolina Raptor Center Executive Director Jim Warren said center staff and volunteers gave Independence a lot of care before the eagle was ready to fly free again.
“The eagle came to us from Franklin County ... about six months ago,” Warren said. “Its shoulder had to be reconstructed due to the wound. There was also an issue with lead poisoning from something in the environment. It has been undergoing therapy in a flight cage to regain strength in the injured wing. It’s just fantastic timing we are able to release it on the Fourth of July.”
According to Warren, Independence is still a young bird of undetermined sex.
“Juvenile bald eagles lack the white head feathers that adults have,” he said. “But it’s still a massive bird.”
Adult bald eagles can have a wingspan of up to 8 feet and a body length of 40 inches.
Independence was a little more than half that big.
In addition to the scores of people who lined the lakeshore to see Independence released, about two dozen members of the Carolina Raptor Center youth camp were on hand to sing the national anthem.
Twelve-year-old Maggie Sellers from Davidson was enthralled. “Raptors are my favorite birds because they are so majestic, beautiful and powerful,” she said. “It’s a pity they are hurt by modern man. Seeing the eagle released today is a metaphor for the victory of nature over man.”
The raptor center staff released another juvenile bald eagle named Explorer on June 22 at McGuire Nuclear Station’s EnergyExplorium.
Want to know more?
Carolina Raptor Center, 6000 Sample Road, Huntersville, is a non-profit organization that is home to 23 species of raptors. Over 35,000 people visit the facility each year. Information on donating or volunteering is available at 704-875-6521 or carolinaraptorcenter.org.