Bald eagles that were rehabbed locally will stay at Buffalo Zoo

Staff Reports Posted 6 August 2014 at 12:00 am

U.S. Fish & Wildlife wanted to move birds to Massachusetts

Two bald eagles that were rehabilitated in Shelby by Wendi Pencille will be staying in the Buffalo Zoo, rather than being moved to Massachusetts, Congressman Chris Collins announced.

The Buffalo Zoo will be the new permanent home to two bald eagles, Carson and Stripe. Late last year while the eagles recovered from serious injuries that left them unable to return to the wild, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service fought to move the birds to a facility in Massachusetts despite the Buffalo Zoo having already pledged to welcome the eagles as part of its anticipated Arctic Edge exhibit.

“In my nearly 30 years as a wildlife rehabilitator, this was the most difficult thing I have ever faced,” said Pencille, who cared for the eagles after their injuries at her Orleans County facility. “Caring for the thousands of animals over the years was easy compared to convincing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to change a decision on the birds’ permanent placement.”

After the Buffalo Zoo and Pencille were unable to convince Fish & Wildlife to back down from its plan to move the eagles out of state, Collins’ office stepped in and helped facilitate the permanent placement of Carson and Stripe at the zoo.

While its state-of-the art Arctic Edge exhibit nears completion, the Buffalo Zoo officially welcomed the bald eagles earlier than expected this past February.

“The Buffalo Zoo is grateful to Congressman Collins for advocating on our behalf, and helping to secure these majestic birds to be enjoyed by Western New York families for years to come,” said Donna Fernandes, President/CEO of the Buffalo Zoo.

Buffalo Zoo staff say Carson and Stripe are adapting well to their new lives and adjusting exactly as they expected given the eagles’ particular injuries. Carson and Stripe can now help the zoo share the conservation success story of bald eagles in North America and the importance of protecting these majestic birds.

The eagles are expected to move into their permanent home in Arctic Edge next year. Construction of the new exhibit continues in full force. Underground utility work is nearly complete, foundations are being poured, and support walls are starting to appear above ground.

“There was no good reason to move these bald eagles to Massachusetts when they were already in Western New York being nursed back to health and the Buffalo Zoo was willing to give them a new, first-class home,” Collins said. “I am glad my office could step in and convince the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to abandon its plan in place of common sense. I want to thank Donna Fernandes and her staff at the Buffalo Zoo for continuing to do such a great job, and Wendi Pencille for caring for these injured eagles and bringing this matter to our attention in the first place.”