Rehabilitated Bald Eagles Released on Tennessee River
Governor-elect Bill Haslam & TVA Board Member Bill Sansom joined the American Eagle Foundation to release rehabilitated Bald Eagles in honor of U.S. soldiers.
Pigeon Forge, TN – – Tennessee Governor Elect Bill Haslam and former TVA Chairman (and current board member) Bill Sansom recently joined the non-profit American Eagle Foundation (www.eagles.org) to release two rehabilitated Bald Eagles named ‘Cumberland’ and ‘Patriot’ on the Tennessee River near Knoxville in honor of America’s brave soldiers serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places globally.
Prior to the release of the majestic birds, The Star Spangled Banner was sung a cappella by Julia Cecere, a Junior at Belmont University.
“We have so many brave men and woman serving all over the world defending our country’s freedoms and the rights of others,” said AEF Founder & President Al Cecere. “We must never forget their unselfish and heroic sacrifices and actions, especially during the Christmas holidays when so many of them can’t be home with their families.”
One eagle had been shot in Cumberland County during the spring of 2009 causing multiple wounds to its body and severe damage to the left wing. The other was found in Loudon County last year with a wing injury. Both birds have spent several months together in a 150 foot long flight enclosure at the AEF’s United States Eagle Center at Dollywood, as the final step in their recovery. They had initially been treated at the University of Tennessee Veterinary College.
Cheryl Hornsby, a resident of Cumberland County, whose husband and son had found and rescued the eagle ‘Cumberland,’ was present with her father to see the eagles returned to the wild.
“Releasing America’s living symbol of Independence into the wild was a fitting way to pay tribute to our courageous troops,” said Cecere. “It was also a special way to cap off our 25th Anniversary year of bringing back eagles to America’s lands and skies.”
The person who shot the eagle ‘Cumberland’ has not yet been found, but a $5,000 reward is still being offered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Wildlife Federation, and American Eagle Foundation for information leading to the arrest of that individual.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officers (Dan Hicks & others), AEF Board and Staff Members (Steve Compton, Joe Spivey, Bobby Halliburton, Danielle Steckley & Rob West), and other special guests also attended the event.
Tennessee had no successful Bald Eagle nests for 22 years between 1961 and 1983. In order to restore nesting, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, American Eagle Foundation, and their partners have released a total of 330 young Bald Eagles from 7 Tennessee hack sites from 1980 through 2010. The AEF has released 105 of these 330 bald eagles at Douglas Lake of East Tennessee from 1992 through 2010.
Successful nesting resumed in Tennessee in 1983, and has gradually increased from 0 to at least 91, producing more than 160 young in 2010. Tennessee-released Bald Eagles and their offspring are also nesting in several other states, documented as far away as northern Ohio near Lake Huron.
Established in 1985, the American Eagle Foundation (AEF) is a not-for-profit charitable conservation 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 education programs, and operates the world’s largest Bald Eagle exhibit and breeding facility.
Since 1995, the AEF (www.eagles.org) has appeared coast to coast with its trained, free-flying Bald Eagle ‘Challenger,’ including at the White House, U.S. Capitol Building, Pentagon and various high-profile sporting events such as the World Series, Olympics, AFC Championship, Fiesta Bowl, Men’s Final Four, BSC National Championship and NFL Pro-Bowl.
Mr. Haslam has served as Mayor of Knoxville since 2003, and Mr. Sansom has been Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The H.T. Hackney Co. since 1983.
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