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Eagle takes flight in honor of rehabber’s mother

DEWAYNE HOLLOWAY/dewayne@mcnews.online
A recently rehabbed bald eagle was ready to go and Tommy Young was more than ready to set him free Saturday as Young released his 114th bald eagle back into the wild atop Hickory Nut Mountain Vista.
The release was well attended with people gathered to see Tommy Young release another bald eagle into the wild. This male bird has been a handful once he rehabbed from a broken pelvic girdle suffered last December.
He as struck by a car near Nathan in Howard County. The lady, identified as Michelle, stated before his release that she had just left her mother’s home when a large black mass swooped in front of her car. As she struck the mass she say white and realized she had just hit a bald eagle. She called the authorities who then called Tommy to do what he does best, help these birds return to the wild.
Tommy had to use a titanium rod to rebuild the pelvic girdle so the bird could return to the air. He explained that the injury prevented the eagle from using his tail to fly.
Tommy performed a six hour surgery to repair the damage caused by the accident and then began the rehabbing portion of the bird’s stay at Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife Center in Mena.
This young bird grew very feisty as his body became stronger and by the time his release arrived everyone was ready to see him go. It is no secret that Tommy loves each and every animal he works with, but they are wild animals and captivity is not a permanent solution.
Tommy shared that while driving to the Vista point for the release the bald eagle got his hood off and decided to reach over Tommy and grab the steering wheel with both claws. Tommy stated that while it was no easy task getting the bird off the steering wheel and back under his hood, he was glad the bird grabbed the steering wheel and not the back of his neck.
Once they arrived and it came time to release the bird members of the local Native American community said a prayer for the bald eagle’s release. The prayer was followed by a song and drum solo.
Tommy climbed to the edge of the Vista wall with the bald eagle and tossed him into the air after removing his hood. The majestic bird dipped slightly before unfurling his wings and taking to the skies. He is expected to return to the Great Lakes region just in time to meet his partner for mating season.
Tommy has been rehabbing bald eagles and other wild animals for over 20 years. He shared that it was all he had ever known. He talked about how his mother was always nursing an animal back to good health when he was young. It seemed like the natural path for him to care for injured wild animals.
Tragically, his mother passed away last year due to COVID-19. This bald eagle release was done in honor of her life.
Tommy received another bald eagle recently, this one came from Scott County. Hickory Nut Mountain Vista has become a favorite release location for Tommy and its very possible he will return there in a few months with his new patient.
For more information about Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife Center, or to donate to Tommy’s work visit their Facebook page.

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