Bald eagle to be released at Starved Rock State Park April 14 after rehab

Phil Wire with the injured eaglet. (Photo by Kathy Casstevens-Jasiek, Director of Marketing, Starved Rock Lodge)

Online Staff Report

Saturday, April 14, at 1 p.m., Karen Herdklotz of Hoo Haven Wildlife Rehabilitation Center will release an adolescent bald eaglet named Peace at Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Ill.

According to Park Superintendent Tom Levy, spectators should watch from the seawall 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.

The bald eagle is America’s symbol of strength and perseverance, portraying our desire to overcome obstacles and live a life of freedom. Karen Herdklotz has had a first-hand opportunity to get to know this special eagle, whom she named Peace. Herdklotz and her husband founded “Hoo” Haven Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education Center in Durand, Ill. With help from many volunteers at her nonprofit facility, Karen, 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.

Injured eaglet. (Photo by Kathy Casstevens-Jasiek, Director of Marketing, Starved Rock Lodge)

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 the 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. A sacred Native American ceremony will be held prior to Peace’s release.

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 license to do so. Donations are always welcome at “Hoo” Haven ( and Fox Valley Wildlife Rehabilitation (

Hoo Haven’s advice on finding baby wildlife

Many newborn animals and birds are around in the spring. This increases the chance that you may discover a sick, injured, or orphaned little creature. Here are some helpful tips:

Remember, baby animals and birds are best raised by their parents. Never assume an animal or bird is orphaned. The mother must leave to find food. Although the baby may be alone, it may not be orphaned. For animals, determine if the baby needs medical assistance. If it seems healthy, observe from a distance for a period of time to see if the mother returns. If handling is necessary, minimize handling, petting or hugging.

Fawns. A doe never leaves its baby. As urban growth has taken over animal habitats, mothers have been forced to have babies in odd places like yards, along the road, or in ditches. If you spot a fawn, keep your eyes on it from a distance. If it is still there at 10 p.m. or if you find the mother dead, then it is orphaned. Otherwise, stay away from the fawn and let the doe tend to it. If the fawn is dangerously close to a road, pick it up and move it to a safer place (about 10-15 feet away from the road).

Rabbits. If you find a rabbit nest in your yard, mow around the nest and position a wheel barrel over the top of it. This allows the mother access while keeping other animals out. Rabbits are best left alone. If the nest gets disturbed, put everything back as best you can, and the mother should come back.

Squirrels. If you find a baby squirrel or downed nest during yard cleanup or because a tree has been cut down, line a laundry basket with a towel and put the babies in it. Place the basket near the tree where you found the babies. Keep dogs or other pets away from the basket. Watch the basket for three hours. The mother should come and get the babies.

Birds. Songbird babies – warm them in your hands or use a blow dryer on a low setting and put them back in the nest if possible. Raptors should be brought to Hoo Haven as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours.

For more specific information, go to and click on the “I Rescued” button or cal (815) 629-2212. If you find a sick, injured or orphaned animal, please keep it quiet, warm and safe in dim light until you contact Hoo Haven.

Posted April 11, 2012

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