Golden eagle rescued from death in Utah and rehabilitated flies home

Wild Friends Best Friends Animal Sanctuary staff spent months rehabilitating an injured golden eagle. It was released two weeks ago at Gunsight Point, not far from where it was found in Arizona. (Wild Friends Best Friends Animal Sanctuary)

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SALT LAKE CITY — A golden eagle that landed on the side of a road in Fredonia, Arizona on February 28 came back to life on November 19 after months of care and rehabilitation in Utah.

Restoration: Bring back the eagle

In critical condition, the raptor was taken to Wild Friends at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab. There the bird was stabilized and on-site veterinarians performed emergency surgery.

X-rays showed that a thin pouch connected to the eagle’s throat was full of an unknown substance; it was also treated for lead poisoning.

A second operation on the eagle was performed when the goiter – a muscular sac at the front of a bird’s neck – came through the stitches from the first operation, resulting in more than a month of intensive care.

With the raptor recovering from both surgeries, it was time to rebuild its weakened flight muscles for the return to its natural habitat.

The eagle could only do a lap or two at Kanab at first, but after several months of training it was able to fly eight laps around the building without a break.

go back home

Arizona Fish and Game selected Gunsight Point, Arizona, as the release site for the rehabilitated golden eagle. Gunsight Point is about 30 miles from where the injured bird was found.

Best Friends and Arizona Fish and Game staff watched as the golden eagle was released, soared, and then disappeared into the surrounding red rocks.

Did you know?

  • The golden eagle primarily eats rabbits, hares, squirrels and prairie dogs.
  • The most common official national animal in the world, the golden eagle is the emblem of Albania, Germany, Austria, Mexico and Kazakhstan.
  • Find out more fun facts about the largest, fastest, and most agile birds of prey at All About Birds.

What to do if you find an injured animal?

Wild Friend offers the following tips if you encounter injured wildlife on the road:

  • Find your nearest wildlife rehabilitation center on and call for real-time help when possible.
  • Most rehab centers will ask you to contain an animal, so it would be helpful if you could crate the animal for transport using a large net or towel (whatever you have on hand) to crate the animal. Pay special attention to the beak and feet.
  • Some centers have emergency numbers, but if your nearest center doesn’t have an emergency number, you can call Wild Friends 24 hours a day.
  • Contact your local Department of Wildlife Resources or Department of Natural Resources Office for help if the animal is too dangerous or in a precarious position.
  • Stay with the animal to keep it at the crime scene or to prevent it from coming into contact with other animals.
  • Keeping wild animals is dangerous and illegal. You can be fined and possibly jailed for the offense. Wildlife centers allow a 48-hour grace period before confiscating wildlife and imposing a fine.
  • In addition to its licensed wildlife facilities, Wild Friends is also home to many species of adoptable animals in need of loving homes. Especially those equipped to care for species such as ducks, chickens, reptiles and small mammals.

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