A ceremony took place at Mason Neck State Park Aug. 4 to celebrated the newly rehabilitated bald eagle's journey back into the wild.
The Wildlife Center of Virginia has released a rehabilitated bald eagle back into the wild. A ceremony took place at Mason Neck State Park in Fairfax County to mark the event.
Wearing elbow-length gloves for protection from the eagle's beak and talons, the president of the Wildlife Center of Virginia walks around so that the hundreds of onlookers who've come out can get a closer look at a real bald eagle.
The young eagle turns to look at Ed Clark's face a few times, but Clark says he and his colleagues work hard to make sure the eagles they take in don't get used to human contact.
"The fact that they truly don't like us is an asset when they are turned loose," he says. "Anybody who cares for wildlife and then ends up having the animal like them has failed in their job."
And soon, it's time for the magic moment. Clark opens his arms and practically throws the eagle toward the other end of the field, and the eagle is free.
Gaye Wallen came all the way from Ashburn to witness the release, and wasn't disappointed.
"I got teary," says Wallen. "I couldn't help myself."
Clark says in 1970, Virginia had just 70 pairs of bald eagles -- now, the state is home to nearly 900 pairs.