TreeHouse eagle release set for Mon., MLK holiday

Two bald eagles treated for rat poisoning will be released Monday at Roodhouse Community Park

A bald eagle tests its wings in one of the flight cages used for rehabilitation at the TreeHouse Wildlife Center. (Facebook/TreeHouse Wildlife Center)

A bald eagle tests its wings in one of the flight cages used for rehabilitation at the TreeHouse Wildlife Center. (Facebook/TreeHouse Wildlife Center)

By Ted Cox

Let’s try that again.

TreeHouse Wildlife Center plans to release two bald eagles successfully treated for ingesting rat poison on Monday in Roodhouse in Greene County.

The wildlife-rehab center first scheduled the release for last Saturday, but called it off due to the major snowstorm that hit central and southern Illinois.

Kids and many others figure to be free on the weekday, however, as Monday is the official observance of the Martin Luther King holiday. The release is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday at the Community Park, 1260E, Roodhouse.

The center announced on its Facebook page last Saturday morning that “Mother Nature has spoken” and it would reschedule the release due to the heavy snow.

TreeHouse touted the release on its Facebook page 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.

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.