The release was held at the Carpenter Nature Center. This location was chosen because it over looks the St Croix River just north of where it meets the Mississippi. Because of the joining of the two rivers the water typically stays open here which makes it good eagle habitat during the winter.
Many eagles are released at Carpenter during the winter but this release was special. This was the time for Harley to return to the wild. Harley had become a local celebrity because of the details of his rescue.
Harley was injured and dying on the side of the road in northwest Wisconsin when Brian Baladez, a local biker, rode by on his bike. He realized that there was something wrong with him so he stopped grabbed the mature eagle, something you should not do unless you have experience, wrapped it in his leather jacket and strapped it on to his bike. He took the eagle to the Duluth Zoo, with the help of friendly police officers who were very surprised to find a biker with an eagle strapped to his bike, and it eventually was transported to The Raptor Center.
When he was admitted to TRC it was determined that he had a fractured Ulna, a bone in the wing, and was suffering from lead poisoning. Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding his rescue some newspapers in Duluth picked up on the story and thus Harley got his celebrity status and his name. Brian, pictured above, got the honor of releasing Harley back out into the wild. He was fitted with a transmitter so that his moves could be tracked. If you would like to follow Harley out in the wild check out the new TRC blog. I was asked to come out and photograph the happy occasion and several of the pics, including the one above, made it into publication.