Jet-Powered Baby Bald Eagles Touch Down in Tennessee
American Eagle Foundation Chosen as New Protector of Seven Eaglets
Pigeon Forge, TN, May 4, 2007 – Yesterday evening at 9:15 p.m., the first two of seven young Bald Eagles (or “Eaglets”) from the San Francisco Zoo will touch down at McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, via Delta Airlines. The seven week-old eaglets are heading to the American Eagle Foundation’s release tower on Douglas Lake in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains where they will be released into the wild in June.
They made a brief overnight stop at the American Eagle Foundation’s (AEF) United States Eagle Center at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee before being placed in their artificial nest today where they will spend the next 6 weeks before being released.
The 22-year old not-for-profit conservation group (www.eagles.org) is dedicated to the recovery and protection of the Bald Eagle, and was recently chosen by the US Fish & Wildlife Service – over a number of other zoos and wildlife centers nationwide – to receive the seven eaglets, plus their parents. In mid to late June, ten adult Bald Eagles (5 breeding pairs) will arrive in Tennessee from the San Francisco Zoo via a Fed Ex jet, soon after the zoo’s breeding program ends this year. That program had previously supplied captive hatched Bald Eaglets to the Catalina Island Bald Eagle recovery project off the coast of Los Angeles. The remaining eaglets are scheduled to arrive in Tennessee over the next six weeks with the next shipment of four eaglets coming on May 14th.
“We’re really pleased to receive these youngsters to further our Bald Eagle recovery program in Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains area’, said AEF Founder & President Al Cecere. “We expect that these West Coast eaglets will soon be fully enjoying the beauty and natural resources that the Eastern part of the country offers. After their release, it’s possible that some of these birds will even return to this area to set up housekeeping and raise a family in the hills of Tennessee.”
The new eaglets arrive at a time when the federal government and conservation groups alike are focused on the national bird’s comeback. The Bald Eagle is scheduled to be “delisted” from Endangered Species Act protection in June.
On May 1st, the U.S. Senate approved a special resolution – proposed by the AEF – to set aside June 20th as “American Eagle Day,” Also, on May 1st, the AEF was honored with a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service “Conservation Award” for the Foundation’s comprehensive strategy to help boost Bald Eagle numbers in the lower 48 states – especially in the Southeast – including eagle reintroduction, captive breeding, and extensive environmental/wildlife education efforts.
Cecere, however, is quick to add that the nation’s Great Seal symbol isn’t out of the woods just yet. “The Bald Eagle may soon be removed from the ESA’s threatened species list, but it has still not fully recovered. Its’ fight for future survival will continue. It will cost millions of dollars to monitor and protect eagle nests on private lands nationally for the remainder of this decade and beyond – to fully return the Bald Eagle to America’s lands, waterways and skies.”
The AEF plans to establish an “American Eagle Fund” endowment dedicated to help monitor and protect Bald Eagles nationally for future generations. The eagle preservation group needs to raise an initial $10 million in private monies for that Fund in order to receive matching funds from the U.S. Treasury that will be generated from sales (to the public) of a special commemorative eagle coin set to be marketed by the U.S. Mint in 2008. Donations can be made through the organization’s website.
About the AEF:
Established in 1985, the AEF is a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to the recovery, protection and preservation of the Bald Eagle and its habitat. The Federal and State-licensed organization conducts environmental, ecological and eagle-focused recovery and education programs, and operates the world’s largest Bald Eagle exhibit and breeding facility. Since 1995, the AEF has appeared coast to coast with its trained, free-flying Bald Eagle Challenger,” including at the White House and various sporting events such as the World Series, Olympics, Men’s Final Four, and NFL Pro-Bowl.
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