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Citizen Potawatomi Nation Releases Juvenile Bald Eagle

Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Raptor View Research Institute of Missoula and Comanche Nation Sia have joined forces to rehabilitate, release and track a juvenile bald eagle.

“We are honored to be part of such a historic event,” said Chairman John Barrett, Citizen Potawatomi Nation. “It was incredibly important for us to use the tracking device when we released this bird so that we know she is doing well and so that we can learn for future events. It’s an honor for our tribe to be able to release this eagle.”

The eagle was transferred to the CPN Eagle Aviary from the Florida Audubon Society in June 2012 after she was found near her nest in Orange County, Fla. The eagle had suffered an injury to her left wing, including fractured wing tip, extensive tissue damage and loss of her primary flight feathers.

“When we received her we didn’t believe that she would ever fly again,” said Jennifer Randell, CPN Eagle Aviary manager. “However, as we were monitoring her health and progress we noticed she had an interest in learning to fly and that her feathers were growing back. After a few months we determined she could be rehabilitated and should be released.”

It was not until the replacement set of flight feathers grew in that the eagle’s flight could be reevaluated. By fall 2012, it was determined that the eagle had regained flight ability well enough to consider release back to the wild.

“This is a very unique situation,” said Bill Voelker, executive director, Sia. “We originally thought she couldn’t be rehabilitated and then through the circumstances and strength of the bird we were able to release her. The CPN Eagle Aviary has done the right thing and the situation couldn’t be better to release her.”

Rob Domenech from the Raptor View Research Institute equipped the eagle with a GPS device so that her travel and hunting progress can be monitored. The transmitter will allow CPN to follow the movements of the eagle and is a way to keep track of the eagle to make certain of her survival in the wild.  CPN is the first Native American Tribe to use a GPS device to track a rehabilitated eagle.

“The GPS device will allow us to track what is going on with the bird,” said Rob Domenech. “We’re going to be able to see how they travel, where they choose to live and know if there are any problems. The data we gather from tracking really helps us understand and serve these birds better.”

The eagle arrived at the CPN Eagle Aviary when she was approximately five months old and was given her Potawatomi name, Penojes, which means child or young one. The eagle was given a new name, Wadase Zhabwe, which means the brave break through, or the strong survive, before her new journey began.

“We are so proud at what Jennifer and Bree have accomplished with the aviary,” said Linda Capps, Vice Chairman, Citizen Potawatomi Nation. “This aviary is a blessing for our tribe and our tribal citizens. To release an eagle is something very special and we are excited to be able to monitor her progress and learn from her.”

“We couldn’t have done this without the help and support of several people,” added Randell. “I especially want to thank Rob Domenech; Bill Voelker and Troy of Sia; Diana Flynt with The Florida Audubon Center; Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Greg Hughes, Jerry Thompson, Katie Wade, Elvira Hunt with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Col. Robert J. Fleenor with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.”

The Citizen Potawatomi Nation Eagle Aviary houses rescued eagles which typically cannot be rehabilitated. The aviary was funded by a $200,000 Tribal Wildlife Grant awarded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Tours of the aviary are available by appointment only. For more information and for updates on the location of Wadase Zhabwe, please visit http://www.potawatomi.org/eagle.

CPN Eagle Aviary staff help attach the GPS device prior to release.