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Neighbors hope bald eagle stays in Bay View after loss of partner

Posted at 5:15 PM, Apr 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 06:53:24-04

Suzanne Jurva, a filmmaker living in Milwaukee, has seen tragic love stories play out before.

But never quite like the one she saw unfold this week.

"They seemed like such a great couple. They were working together so hard to build that nest. Everything looked great," said Jurva.

On Saturday, a female bald eagle nesting in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood died. According to the Wisconsin Human Society, she had shown signs of the highly-contagious bird flu.

People who live in the area, like Jurva, watched the eagle closely. They even created a Facebook page for it and its male eagle partner, who residents now are hoping remains healthy.

On Friday, neighbors reported the female eagle was on the ground and in serious distress.

She was taken to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at the Wisconsin Humane Society for treatment. They chose to humanely euthanize her after she became severely ill.

"We know how passionately the Bay View community cared about the pair of Bald Eagles nesting in their neighborhood, and we cannot thank our whole community enough for your compassion," said the Center.

Test results to see if the female had avian influenza will take several days.

It's hard to know if the male contracted the virus, but neighbors as well local and state wildlife officials are monitoring his appearance as best as they can.

Milwaukee County Parks recently announced that bald eagles have returned to Milwaukee County to nest. All other counties in the state had already seen a return of eagles of the past few decades.

“It’s truly remarkable because if you think back just 50 years ago, the bald eagle was nearly extinct," said Jurva.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said there were 1,684 occupied nests in 2019, up from 108 in the 1970s.

According to the National Eagle Center, Bald Eagles generally mate for life unless one dies. But the surviving mate will typically find a new partner and often use the same nest.

"I think he's going to make to make it and hopefully he's going to go to wherever he goes to find another mate, which is a little quick for me, but I can get over it," said Jurva.

Many in the area are rooting for him. They hope despite his tragedy he sticks around and eventually starts a family in Bay View.

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