Raptor released back into the wild after recovery at raptor center

Bald Eagle release

Dr. Joni Gnyp and her husband Martin Gnyp of the Cape Fear Raptor Center in Rocky Point, open the cage for "AANG" a 2 year Bald Eagle, back to the wild after 3 months in rehab for lead poisoning, on the 18th green of the North Shore Country Club in Sneads Ferry.

Photo by John Sudbrink / The Daily News
Published: Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 11:58 AM.

SNEADS FERRY | Apprehension and anxiety marked the release of a captive bald eagle at North Shore Country Club in Sneads Ferry — for the humans and the young bird.

“I would rank it as a little bit heart-stopping for me,” said Dr. Joni Gnyp, founder of Cape Fear Raptor Center. “He was told to fly off hard ... but they’re wild animals. They don’t talk to us. So I can’t tell him what to do.”

For the first time since he was found in Sneads Ferry in April, the 2-year-old bald eagle named Aang was free to wander in his natural habitat. Aang was released about 10:15 a.m. July 6 in front of a crowd of more than 100 people standing near the course’s 18th green at the country club.

Among those in attendance was Vince Gable of Charleston, South Carolina.

Gable was visiting family in Onslow County for the Fourth of July weekend and wanted his young daughter to see the eagle’s release to show her the importance of caring for the environment.

“It’s pretty cool to come down here and see something like this happen, especially on a Fourth of July weekend,” Gable said. “I wanted to bring my daughter out here because we want to keep her ... into thinking about things of nature and putting back into the planet.”

When Aang came to the Cape Fear Raptor Center in Rocky Point, Gnyp said the bird was unable to lift his head because of severe lead poisoning, the origin of which is uncertain. She said it is possible the eagle became sick after eating lead shotgun pellets in an animal carcass.

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