UTICA — On Saturday, April 14, at 1 p.m., Karen Herdklotz will release the eaglet named Peace at Starved Rock State Park.
According to Park Superintendant Tom Levy, spectators should watch from the seawall located on the north side of the Visitor Center (across from Plum Island).
Starved Rock is considered the best place for the release because of the large population of wintering eagles, the nesting pairs along that portion of the Illinois River and the food supply near the lock and dam.
The “Release of Peace” is part of a weekend long, first-time event hosted by Starved Rock Lodge called Pelican Days. The event was created to educate the public about white pelicans who migrate along the bird highway known as the Mississippi Flyway each spring and fall. “Hoo” Haven’s newest family member, a rehabilitated white pelican named Marshmallow, will make her debut at this event.
Herdklotz has had a first-hand opportunity to get to know this special eagle, which she named Peace. Herdklotz and her husband founded “Hoo” Haven Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Durand, Ill. With help from many volunteers at her non-profit facility, Herdklotz, a full-time R.N., helps injured birds and wild animals recover from injury and illness. If a full recovery is not possible, “Hoo” Haven adopts the animal as an ambassador for educational purposes.
Last fall, the disabled eaglet was seen limping along the banks of the Illinois River west of Starved Rock State Park. The eaglet, which had been shot in the wing, was rescued by Conservation Police after a barge pilot called to report the incident.
Dr. Robert Harms, a veterinarian at Countryside Animal Clinic in Streator, performed surgery to repair the fractured ulna bone in the eagle’s wing, but he was unable to safely remove eight shotgun pellets.
“There’s no accidental shooting of an eagle,” said Dr. Harms. “This is not an accident. You don’t accidentally shoot a bird this big.”
After surgery, the eaglet was taken to “Hoo” Haven for recovery and rehabilitation, where she met Herdklotz, who said, “Peace has made a remarkable recovery, but it disappoints me to know she’ll return to nature with pellets still lodged in her wing and the person who shot her is still enjoying his freedom.”
Herdklotz said the eaglet is fully recovered and ready to fly.
The state Department of Natural Resources is asking anyone with information on the shooting to call its hotline (877) 236-7529. Most people don’t realize that keeping wildlife is illegal unless you have the proper licenses to do so. Donations are always welcome at “Hoo” Haven (www.hoohaven.org) and Fox Valley Wildlife Rehabilitation (www.foxvalleywildlife.org).
For more information on the eaglet release, Pelican Days or upcoming events at Starved Rock, go to www.starvedrocklodge.com or call Kathy Casstevens-Jasiek at (815) 220-7363.