(Courtesy of The Raptor Trust/Joy Yagid)
(FOX 5 NEWS) - A bald eagle that suffered serious injuries and health problems from being shot has been released back into the wild after nine months of rehabilitation, according to the nonprofit that cared for the bird.
The eagle, nicknamed "Lily" by a girl in a neighborhood of Pittstown, New Jersey, where it was first seen in December 2015, is actually a male. The Raptor Trust and the Avian Wildlife Center captured the eagle after it wouldn't leave a tree for several days.
The animal experts discovered that Lily had lead poisoning, tissue damage, and broken bones from a gunshot wound. Lily needed chelation therapy to remove the lead from its system as well as surgeries to repair injuries.
This week, the Raptor Trust released Lily at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge in Sussex, New Jersey.
"This bird has some challenges to face when it returns to the wild, for sure. While its leg has healed fairly well, there is some lingering nerve damage," Raptor Trust Director Chris Soucy said in a statement on Facebook. "However, it is an experienced adult bird. It has survived in the wild for several years already, it flies really well and it knows what it has to do to hunt, scavenge and live in the wild. Both of his other options -- a life in captivity or euthanasia -- are really lousy options. He’s ready to go and now and we have an obligation to give him his chance."
Bald eagles are protected under federal and state law. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service is investigating Lily's shooting, but no arrests have been made, the Raptor Trust said.