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Jan 16, 2015

Baby eagles rescuer faces year in jail + fines

Photo by Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation
An 18-month-old Bald Eagle, named Sam, has been released into the wild near Rock Island, Wisconsin.   In June of 2013, Sam and his sister, both baby eaglets, had fallen out of a tree, along with their nest.   They were discovered and rescued by wildlife photographer Steve Patterson (pictured at right) of Oglesby, Illinois.   The female, Patty (named after rescuer Patterson) is still receiving therapy for her more damaging injuries.   Patterson contacted the Department of Natural Resources in 2013 and was told to leave the birds alone.   He had already taken them home and then turned them over to the Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation.   Both birds had broken wings.   On January 1st of this year, Sam was released along the Mississippi River.   He joined a large group of nearby eagles.   Meanwhile, rescuer Steve Patterson, already charged and tried once in court, is still facing charges in a re-trial on Feb. 23rd.   Patterson faces up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine for each of his misdemeanor charges.   His first trial ended in 2014 with a hung jury.   Now, State Representative Bob Pritchard has filed a bill for the legislative session that begins  on January 14 (Wednesday of this week).   He is asking for the Illinois Wildlife Code, which Patterson violated by having the eagles in his home temporarily, to be amended to protect people like Patterson.   Patterson has a reputation of not suffering fools gladly and has had legal run-ins with wildlife officials in the past.   It is the price that sympathetic zealots must sometimes pay.   U.S. federal and state laws prevent people from touching or otherwise interfering with certain animals (no matter their plight) in the wild.   There is however a federal wildlife 'Good Samaritan' law.   Hopefully a sensible solution is near.
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