American icon set free

Sunday, February 24th 2008, 7:46 pm
By: News 9


A four-year-old Southern bald eagle was set free after making a full recovery from a gunshot wound.

The bald eagle was shot near the end of last year. She spent the last three months getting rehabilitated and now she's back in the wild.

The 11 pound bird of prey called Siftar #12 was named after Gary Siftar.

"Yes, we picked it up on November 25," Raptor Rehabilitator, Gary Siftar said.

Siftar received the bird just days after the bird was shot near Jones Riverside Airport.

"Didn't hit any vital parts, didn't hit any air sacks, and didn't break any bones," Victor Roubidoux of the Iowa Tribe said.

Siftar #12 first went to Gary Siftar who got her started on the road to recovery.

"This is what we live for, is the release," Siftar said.

Then it was off to the Grey Snow Eagle House in Perkins, an aviary rehabilitation center owned by the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma. The $350 thousand center can take up to 15 eagles at once. For the Iowa, rehabbing eagles is a spiritual quest.

"We believe the eagle is the only one that has seen the face of the creator," Roubidoux said. "So it is very important for us to do rehab, get those birds well and get them back out into the wilds where they belong and, hopefully, they'll carry that message back to the creator and He'll bless our people."

At the foot of the Keystone Dam, along the shores of the Arkansas River, Victor Roubidoux prepped for the special moment and with a few more words of encouragement, she spread her wings and went home.

"It was, I can't explain it," Roubidoux said. "To let that bird go, it was fantastic. That's what it is all about, that's what it is all about."

As for who shot Siftar #12, authorities are still looking for that person. If caught and convicted they could face a $10,000 fine and five years in jail.