JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - A bald eagle that was shot got another chance to flourish in the wild after it was rescued over a month ago.
Members of the Wild at Heart Rescue team rehabilitated a bald eagle that was rescued in late November.
On Tuesday, the team released the bald eagle, named Noel, at Lake Bogue Homa in Jones County.
"We had a bald eagle that's been in our care that had some wounds and it was down, and the mate had actually been taking care of it and feeding it," Wild at Heart Animal Rescue President Doug Pojeky said.
Noel, who was shot with bird shot, and was rescued in a wooded area near the lake on Nov. 24.
"The eagle was down and had a soft tissue wing injury, it also had really low weight, and there were some abrasions to her face, and we had to let that heal back up so that no infections were to happen," Pojeky said.
With some special care, and as little human interaction as possible, Noel was ready to head back to the wild, where the crew knew she had family nearby.
"She's probably in her late 20s, from the local folks around here that watch these bald eagles…they said she's already mothered 4 different cycles of life with the eagles," Pojeky said. "She had some juveniles that were also flying around protecting her and feeding her while she was down."
Pojeky, a former member of the military, said the experience meant a great deal to him.
"I did 20 years in the military and retired, and I'm really proud of that service," Pojeky said. "To be able to give back, and especially a bald eagle that's so precious to our country and to be able to assist that bird into making it and getting back out in the wild it's just…it's priceless."
Despite the countless number of animals released by the team, Pojeky said they all tug at the heart strings.
"It's kind of bittersweet, you get attached to these animals," he said.
Pojeky said his heart was pounding as he held Noel close and gave her a kiss on the head before setting her free.
"The last thing going through my mind is just hoping she gets flight, cause that's the final test whenever you release them, to make sure that they are ready to go…she was ready to go and she flew beautiful," Pojeky said.