Baton Rouge American Indian performs a ceremony as the bird is returned to nature
Last May, Lt. Pamela Schmitt, an animal control officer with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, responded to calls from several motorists who witnessed an eagle along the roadside in Des Allemands thatappeared to be injured. After arriving at the scene, Schmitt was able to determine that the young female eagle had severe injuries to its wings.
According to officials, the eagle’s nest was probably damaged during either Hurricane Katrina or Rita, causing the nest to topple over with the youngster still inside and unable to fly. The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans was contacted and was able to transport the eagle to a safe location.
Dan Maloney, curator of the Audubon Zoo also responded to the call. He is affiliated with LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine that took charge of the eagle’s recovery.
The bird received extensive rehab for her injuries at a wildlife refuge located on the North Shore. After almost two months of recuperation and medical treatment, the female bald eagle made a full recovery.
On June 28, officials from the Audubon Zoo and St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, along with a Native American, released the eagle back into the wild close to where it had been found almost two months ago.
A Native American cleansing ceremony — complete with colorful costumes, burning sage, and a traditional song — was performed by Johnice Daniel, an American Indian of the Ogalala-Lakota and Cherokee-Micmaq tribes.
Following the ceremony, the eagle took to the air in glorious flight. The now free bird, affectionately named Willy, circled overhead four times before heading towards the trees at the far end of a cow pasture in Des Allemands.