Pair of bald eagles returns to wild in Greene County
TreeHouse Wildlife Center released two bald eagles in Roodhouse after they were successfully treated for ingesting rat poison
By Ted Cox
A pair of bald eagles successfully returned to the wild Monday in a release at Roodhouse Community Park staged by the TreeHouse Wildlife Center.
TreeHouse, a 40-year-old wildlife rehabilitation center located in Dow, just inland between Alton and Grafton on the Mississippi River, specializes in treating injured wild animals and returning them to the wild whenever possible.
Rehabilitation Manager Rachael Heaton told KSDK-TV in St. Louis she was “suspicious that they might be a pair,” in that they were found close together in Greene County a couple of months ago, both suffering from ingesting rat poison. Bald eagles are known to be monogamous in their mating habits. They were freed in a midday ceremony Monday attended by dozens of local residents, including kids out of school on a cold Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
TreeHouse has explained on its Facebook page that eagles are central figures in 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.”
The releases were dedicated to former TreeHouse co-worker Malcolm Mathis and his young son, killed in a domestic-violence incident a year ago, and to a former close friend of TreeHouse President Marcie Nagle who committed suicide last August.
Nagle told KSDK-TV that according to tribal myth the eagles act as “a messenger to God.”
The release took place in Roodhouse, directly north from the TreeHouse home base in Dow. The Alton area 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 high gear with an almost daily series of events on Jan. 28.