“Harley” scheduled for release

Jan 27, 2010 | Raptor Center

harley01In early August on a long stretch of County Highway T near Wascott, Wisconsin, motorcyclist Brian Baladez passed a bald eagle on the side of the road. Realizing the bird was injured, Baladez wrapped it in his leather jacket, strapped it to the back of his Harley Davidson motorcycle and transported it to the Duluth Zoo to find help. One vet and police car ride later, Brian and eagle were referred to the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center in St. Paul, one of the most renowned centers for raptor medicine and surgery.

At The Raptor Center, Dr. Irene Bueno-Padilla, a Veterinary Intern from Spain, lead the case diagnosing the eagle with a fractured ulna (wing) and lead poisoning. The lead poisoning is most likely the result of consuming prey shot with lead bullets. In addition, readers of the Duluth News Tribune named him “Harley” in reference to his unorthodox rescue vehicle after his story was published. To repair his broken wing, Harley underwent surgery performed by Dr. Julia Ponder. Harley’s flight rehabilitation was delayed due to intense molting of his flight feathers. According to Dr. Ponder, this is a common problem associated with wing injuries.

20091217-_MG_4331With the help of numerous volunteers, Harley took flight in mid-December and has been exercised regularly since then. A video of one of the training sessions is posted at http://vimeo.com/8873719. Now that The Raptor Center staff is confident that Harley will be able to survive on his own in the wild, he will be released at Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center near Hastings. From there, it is likely that Harley will go north to find a mate. Wherever he goes, Harley can now take to the skies and fly free.

Come to Carpenter Nature Center at noon on Saturday, January 30th to watch Harley be released!

Next week, I’ll post some pictures or video of the release party.

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