ELKINS, W.Va. (WBOY) — On June 14, 2022, at the Elks Golf Course in Elkins, a bald eagle was spotted that appeared to be unable to fly. On July 28, that bald eagle was released back into the wild after weeks of rehabilitation.

The eagle was a young bird that hatched this spring. Malnourished and unable to fly when captured, with the help of many volunteers, the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia (ACCA), and the Cheat Lake Animal Hospital, the young eagle was able to be released after five weeks of rehabilitation.

“Well of course you are always hoping for the best. You’re hoping that you’re going to see it take off and not land, so seeing its flight, it kept going up, it kind of swirled around a little bit, that’s what we want to see. We want to see it go upward. So it’s breathtaking, it’s what you want to see, it’s what you’ve worked for,” ACCA Volunteer Beth Goodwin said.

Anyone who sees an injured bird should call the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, so it can be captured, rehabilitated and hopefully released back into the wild, much like the young bald eagle. Donations to the non-profit ACCA can be made on its website.

“Every time I do this, it’s different every time, and I mentioned to you once before, it’s like when they take off, I take off with them. It is an experience that I encourage everyone to have, there’s nothing like it,” Raptor Specialist & Rescue Volunteer Jo Santiago said.

Santiago said that while it is illegal to do, people shoot bald eagles for sport and set out traps, but these raptor birds are also injured from feasting on animal remains that contain lead bullets left behind by hunters. She also said that this is only the second bald eagle that she has been able to release back out into the wild because those that they capture are already poisoned with lead, she suggested that hunters use an alternative to lead bullets and fish lures.

To see the video of the bald eagle’s release, make sure to watch the video at the top of this story!