NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A young bald eagle was released near the Cumberland River in Nashville Tuesday morning.
The America American Eagle Foundation and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency released the bird at the Bell's Bend Outdoor Center just off Old Hickory Boulevard.
The eagle was born in captivity, and successfully raised as a chick. Officials hope he will help re-populate the dwindling bald eagle numbers as part of a growing "breed and release" program
The foundation said the release was in honor of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency veteran Robert Hatcher. He initiated Tennessee’s bald eagle recovery efforts in the early 1980s. The released eagle was named “Hatcher’s Legacy.”
“We're going to have the Bob Hatcher Ornithological Foundation Scholarship. And that scholarship will go to some wildlife student, who especially is going toward ornithology or somewhere in that realm of the world that that Bob worked so well in,” said TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter.
The first scholarship will be given out this fall.
In the 1960s and ’70s, bald eagles were on the brink of extinction. Since then, strict protection laws along with restoration efforts have helped restore the species to America’s skies.
As of January 2014, the foundation says there were about 143 successful bald eagle nests in Tennessee.
From those nests, about 250 eaglets fledged in 2013.
(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)