IMAGE: BALD EAGLE MARTHA WITH CHICK
Stephanie Spears  /  Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project
Martha, a bald eagle that was euthanized after injuring her wing, is seen in 2004 with one of her chicks. Earlier this year, Martha had to abandon new eggs after she was hurt in an attack by another eagle. Those chicks later died.
updated 10/4/2006 1:39:43 PM ET 2006-10-04T17:39:43

Martha, the unlucky bald eagle that received the nation's sympathy in the spring after being injured and then losing her family, has been euthanized after getting injured again.

"All the vets and surgeons that consulted on the case agreed that she would not be comfortable, and life in captivity was not an option," said Chris Motoyoshi, a director at the Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research Center in Newark, Del.

Motoyoshi said Martha, who had lived near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project in Maryland since 1998, seriously hurt her wing — possibly after crashing into a tree or power line.

The center added that experts said the wing could not be repaired. “Consideration was given to placing Martha in a zoo or educational facility," it said in a statement, "but it was agreed that this would be a painful and uncomfortable life for Martha. Captivity is also not an easy transition for a bird that has been wild for many years, such as Martha.  Euthanasia was the only humane option."

The bald eagle was brought to the center Friday and put down Monday. She may have been injured for three or four days before she was found, Motoyoshi said.

Hurt by eagle earlier
Martha received national attention in April when workers at the bridge project found her injured in the aftermath of a midair battle with a rival bald eagle. The workers had earlier nicknamed her Martha and her mate George, after George and Martha Washington.

George was left to care alone for the pair's eggs while Martha was treated for puncture wounds and a damaged beak. The chicks died shortly after they hatched while Martha was still recovering.

Glenn Therres, a bald eagle biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said that while the Martha's death was unfortunate, he is not distressed by the loss of one eagle.

"Fortunately, the eagle population is healthy enough and large enough now that the loss of a breeding individual is not going to be detrimental," he said.

Species is recovering
In fact, Martha's mate might already be busy courting her replacement, Therres said. Eagles return to their nests sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Bald eagles, the symbol of the United States, were considered endangered in 43 of the 48 lower states until 1995, when their status was upgraded to threatened.

More than 400 pairs of nesting bald eagles live in Maryland, Therres said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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