Eagle release put off by TreeHouse Wildlife Center

Bald eagles treated for rat poisoning to be returned to Greene County

TreeHouse Wildlife Center staff free a bald eagle in an earlier release at Two Rivers. (Facebook/TreeHouse Wildlife Center)

TreeHouse Wildlife Center staff free a bald eagle in an earlier release at Two Rivers. (Facebook/TreeHouse Wildlife Center)

By Ted Cox

A pair of bald eagles will be released back into the wild after being treated for rat poisoning by the TreeHouse Wildlife Center, but it won’t happen Saturday.

The center announced on its Facebook page Saturday morning that “Mother Nature has spoken” and it will reschedule the release in Roodhouse in Greene County due to the heavy snow expected in downstate Illinois.

TreeHouse touted the release on its Facebook page, originally set for 1 p.m. Saturday in Roodhouse, straight to the north from its home base in Dow just inland from Alton on the Mississippi River. The eagles are being returned to Greene County, where they were found.

When they happen, the pair of releases are being dedicated to loved ones lost in the TreeHouse family. According to the wildlife rehab center: “The first bald eagle release is in tribute to a co-worker and friend, Malcom Mathis and his infant son, whose lives were tragically cut short in February 2018. The second bald eagle will be released for a loved one lost to suicide in August 2018. Please join us in memorial and in awareness of both domestic violence and suicide prevention.”

TreeHouse explains the ceremony builds on tribal mythology: “The eagle is a powerful bird that is recognized by cultures all over the world. In North America, as the bald eagle flew higher than any other bird the Native Americans believed they were closer to the creator, able to freely pass between our world and the spirit world. For this reason, they believed the bald eagle could act as a messenger, carrying their prayers to the creator and then returning with answers through signs. It was believed, if you saw an eagle fly overhead, then your prayers were being answered.”

It’s also a just plain celebration of the TreeHouse mission to treat injured wild animals and, when possible, return them to their native habitat. As TreeHouse founder Adele Moore explained at an event a year ago: “The releases are always a good thing. And you never get tired of seeing them go back to the wild, because there are so many that can’t.”

Alton was one of the first Illinois towns to enjoy the revival of bald eagles, as a lock on the Mississippi River encourages their winter hunting there. Pere Marquette State Park has an annual celebration of the bird known as Bald Eagle Days, which kicks into an almost daily series of events on Jan. 28.

The release is set for Roodhouse Community Park. TreeHouse cautions that Greene County recently updated local addresses for 911 service, and that Google Maps thus far hasn’t caught up with the changes. It advises: “Road 1260E is now NE 1250 St.,” and that there is a sign for the park on the south border of Roodhouse on Highway 67. They’re planning to post additional signs along the way as well.

Here’s a post including a release a year ago, with video from the Belleville News Democrat.