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'Spirit' set free

A juvenile bald eagle shot multiple times in Columbia County has been released after more than two months of recovery at The Animal Hospital in Slingerlands. (photo courtesy of The Animal Hospital)

A juvenile bald eagle shot multiple times in Columbia County has been released after more than two months of recovery at The Animal Hospital in Slingerlands. (photo courtesy of The Animal Hospital)

More than two months after suffering severe injuries, a bald eagle named Spirit has been released from The Animal Hospital in Slingerlands.

Doctors released the bird Thursday, Dec. 22 at their facility after caring for the animal’s multiple injuries, which included a fractured wing.

“He just wanted out so desperately, but he wasn’t prepared to be released, so I couldn’t take him to a habitat area, because he wasn’t quite ready,” said Dr. Ed Becker, co-owner of The Animal Hospital.

Becker and his staff took the bird in on Oct. 12, after a hiker found the animal at the Nutten Hook State Unique Area in Stuyvesant. Becker is a consulting veterinarian to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The eagle arrived at the hospital that day in critical condition with bullets in multiple locations, including his brain. Recently, the staff at the Slingerlands facility has let Spirit test out his healing wing inside their flight cage.

Becker said it would take a little more time to get Spirit back to 100 percent, but pointed out that the eagle has grown accustomed to the area and hospital as a good food source.

“We just put food for him on top of the flight cage,” said Becker. “I’ll bet any amount of money he’ll end up coming back and eating and getting stronger.”

Becker said it’s a happy ending to the story, but asked that people remember what happened to the animal.

“Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this poor patient suffered for weeks because somebody shot him,” said Becker.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has offered a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the shooting.

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