Well-known Patoka Lake bald eagle dies

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By The Staff

PATOKA - Bald Eagle C52, which appeared in Department of Natural Resources shows at the state fair for the past eight years and with the DNR's Patoka Lake Interpretive Services for 20 years, years, died Tuesday while undergoing surgery.

"Thousands of people became aware of the life of bald eagles through the program with C52," said Maria Abel-Crecelius, the park's interpretive naturalist in Birdseye.

C52 came to Indiana from his nest in Tongass National Forest in Alaska in July 1988. From there, he was transported to Lake Monroe and became the 52nd bald eagle in its hack tower. The eagles in the tower were to be raised by DNR staff to the age of 3-4 months, then released and allowed to fledge, helping Indiana's eagle population to eventually thrive once again.

 As C52 (his leg band identification for Indiana) took his place with two other young eagles in the nest area of the tower, DNR staff noticed difficulty with his right wing not extending. Further tests and exams by Minnesota Rehab and Research diagnosed a genetic defect. C52 had hatched with that wing drawn up in a fixed position, greatly reducing his ability to survive in the wild, but launching a career that would make him familiar to many Hoosiers

"From January 1989 when he arrived at Patoka Lake Visitor Center until yesterday, C52 was a valuable asset to the Interpretive Services," Abel-Crecelius said. "Thousands of people have enjoyed the opportunity to see this wild bird up close and learn about the habits and habitat of bald eagles. He was a symbol of our country, an ambassador for the species and a celebration of the successful re-introduction of eagles to Indiana.

C52's death occurred during exploratory procedures in Louisville at 11:20 a.m. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife and other agencies have been notified. The remains were sent to the National Eagle Repository in Commerce City, Colo., per federal law.

The Indiana Natural Resources Foundation supports Patoka's ongoing raptor care and support programs through donations.  Contributions to this fund can be made online at www.IndianaNRF.org or by calling (317) 234-5447.