A four year old Southern Bald Eagle was set free at Keystone Dam in Sand Springs on Sunday after a full recovery from a gunshot wound. The News On 6's Dan Bewley reports the bald eagle was shot near the end of last year. She spent the last three months getting rehabilitated and now is going back into the wild.
The bird of prey is 11 pounds and is called Siftar #12, as in Gary Siftar who is a bird rehabilitator. Siftar picked the bird up on November 25th, just days after the bird was shot near Jones Riverside Airport.
"Didn't hit any vital parts, didn't hit any air sacks, and didn't break any bones," said Iowa Tribe Wildlife Manager, Victor Roubidoux.
Siftar #12 first went to Gary Siftar who got her started on the road to recovery.
"This is what we live for, is the release," said Siftar.
Then it was off to the Grey Snow Eagle House in Perkins, an aviary rehabilitation center owned by the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma. The $350,000 center can take up to 15 eagles at once. For the Iowa, rehabilitating eagles is a spiritual quest.
"We believe the eagle is the only one that has seen the face of the creator. So, it is very important for us to do rehab, get those birds well, and get them back out into the wilds where they belong and, hopefully, they'll carry that message back to the creator and he'll bless our people," said Roubidoux.
At the foot of the Keystone Dam, along the shores of the Arkansas River, Victor Roubidoux prepped for the special moment with a few more words of encouragement. Then, Siftar #12 spread her wings and went home.
"It was, I can't explain it. To let that bird go, it was fantastic. That's what it is all about, that's what it is all about," said Roubidoux.
As for who shot Siftar #12, authorities are still looking for that person. If caught and convicted they could face a $10,000 fine and five years in jail.