Beloved eagle E8 set free from rehab

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NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. — The juvenile bald eagle that has enchanted observers across Southwest Florida for months is finally free.

E8, first spotted as a hatchling in January, was returned to the wild Thursday after recovering at the Sanibel-based Clinic for Wildlife Rehabilitation from a fractured femur it suffered in an apparent owl attack in May.

It drew notoriety through the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, an online streaming video service set up by North Fort Myers real estate agent Dick Pritchett.

The clinic arranged for the bird’s release near its original nest in North Fort Myers. Doctors are confident that E8 has as much of a chance of surviving in the wild as any bald eagle its age.

“It’s not just the medical side of it, it’s also the rehabilitation side of it where we work so hard to make sure they’re fit enough to hopefully survive in the wild,” said Dr. Heather Barron.

E8’s rehabilitation cost about $30,000, clinic officials said. The clinic is a nonprofit organization that receives its funding via community donations and grants.

“[He’s] had a wild ride so far, so to be able to recover twice and to be able to go through all the challenges that mother nature has tossed his way, it’s amazing,” said Ginnie McSpadden, co-founder of the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam. “We hope for many years of flying high and free in the skies of southwest Florida.”

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