Battling bald eagles found near Dexter: 'They are nasty fighters'

Battling bald eagles found near Dexter: 'They are nasty fighters'
Photo of the second female bald eagle being released into the wild Saturday, Mar. 1. - Photo by Steve Hunnicutt.

JASPER, Ore. -- Two bald eagles, found locked in a vicious battle in the Elijah Bristow State Park, were released back into the wild in the days after they were helped by the Cascades Raptor Center.

Wildlife officials think the two female eagles started to fight on Thursday over territory near Dexter, the center’s executive director Louise Shimmel said.

“Normally when we get these fighting eagles, they are in bad condition. Bites, multiple puncture wounds from talons… they are nasty fighters,” said Shimmel.

She said the eagles were found locked together on the ground, one had a deep wound from a talon and both had lacerations on their legs.

Biologists were initially concerned with how badly the eagles were hurt during their fight.

"We've seen some come in with missing beaks, or broken or bruised from falling through the tree canopy," Shimmel said. “Once we had them in our care, we found they were both still pretty feisty. We checked them for bruising, tested them for flight capabilities and found they were mostly OK."

Cascades Raptor Center released both the birds in Jasper, about midway between where ornithologists think each of the birds chooses to nest. One was released Friday and the other on Saturday.