bald eagle

Bald Eagle Missing from Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Found Safe

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A bald eagle missing from an Ashford wildlife rehabilitation center has been found safe.

Horizon Wings Raptor Rehabilitation and Education posted on Facebook that Atka was found on their property Tuesday morning.

The eagle was taken or released from its locked aviary at the facility, state police said in a press release Monday.

Atka came to Horizon Wings as a 1-year-old nine years ago. He has a permanent wing injury, but Kaeser’s team trained him to be an educational ambassador. According to Kaeser, he attends more than 100 programs per year, working mostly with children. 

"We wish to thank everyone for your help with the search, your Facebook posts, and concern. You all made a difference!" the organization posted on its Facebook page on Tuesday morning.

After a full day of searching, volunteers returned to Horizon Wings this morning to search again. During the search, one of Atka’s handlers, Jeanne Wadsworth, spotted him. 

“He met my eyes, he vocalized to me and that was it.  It clicked in my brain that it was Atka,” said Wadsworth. 

He was found on the property in an area that had already been searched. The team was elated. Atka was found with no injuries, but Mary-Beth Kaeser, owner of Horizon Wings, said that it was clear that Atka was not himself. 

“He was angry, he was scared,” said Kaeser. 

Atka spent most of the day Tuesday in the nesting box in his aviary, tucked away. Kaeser said they are considering bringing him to a scheduled event on Saturday in Massachusetts, depending on how he is feeling. 

In the meantime, they have a lot of questions about what happened. 

“Perhaps whoever did this got scared, they got scared and decided to drop him off back here,” said Kaeser. 

"Yes, Atka is home and he is fine, but it is not over,” said Wadsworth. “There is still a very active investigation at this point.” 

If anyone has information, they are asked to contact Connecticut State Police at 860-896-3200.

A GoFundMe was started Monday night to help fund a reward for Atka’s safe return. Since that money will not be needed, Kaeser said that she is hoping to use some of it to buy a top-notch security system for Horizon Wings. 

Kaeser and Wadsworth both thanked the public for helping to spread the word and find Atka.

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