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Rescue golden eagle dies after being hit by wind turbine

WALNUT CREEK – A young female golden eagle rescued by San Ramon Valley firefighters in March and rehabilitated by Lindsay Wildlife Hospital died hours after being struck by a wind turbine.

Two power workers found the 12-pound raptor near a wind turbine at Altamont Pass in Livermore, according to officials from the Lindsay Wildlife Experience. The workers watched the sub-adult golden eagle struggle as she flew near the ground before falling.

She was brought to Lindsay Wildlife Hospital at 11 a.m. July 25, where Dr. Lana Krol identified that she was an eagle with a satellite telemetry backpack so biologists with East Bay Regional Parks can continue to track her flight paths.

A turbine struck the eagle’s left wing so hard that bones went missing as it shattered at the radius and ulna. The doctor determined that the raptor would never be able to fly again and she was euthanized later that day.

Staff determined that the euthanized golden eagle was the raptor released in May after about a month of rehabilitation, said Norma Bishop, executive director at Lindsay Wildlife Experience. The bird wore a Wildlife band and a GPS backpack, which had an identifying serial number.

The 3-year-old eagle had severe head trauma from an unknown cause and was partially blind in her left eye when Contra Costa Animal Control officers brought her into the hospital on March 27. A little more than a month after she was found, she passed her flight and live prey tests with flying colors and was returned to the sky.

She was released May 1 at Las Trampas Regional park surrounded by the firefighters who rescued her, Lindsay Wildlife donors, doctors who rehabilitated her and biologists who studied her.

Bishop reflected on the golden eagle’s “strength, size and majesty” as she remembered her last memories with the raptor before the release, she said. “We were heartbroken; we really were,” Bishop said.

Bishop hopes that the tragic death will raise awareness about the scarce resources in the world and affect behavioral change in humans, she said.

“We need to look for ways that can be protective of these creatures that contribute so much to our lives,” Bishop said.

The raptor was one of 18 golden eagles being tracked by East Bay Regional Park District wildlife manager Doug Bell, who studied eagles’ flight patterns around the turbines, Bishop said. Before her death, the bird was able to provide “valuable information” during her short amount of time.

“Everyone’s first reaction (to the bird’s death) was ‘oh, no,’€’“ Bishop said. “The more we thought about this, the more we thought that it’s not a waste.”

There are nearly 5,000 energy-generating turbines at Altamont Pass, where the golden eagle was fatally struck.