DUBLIN, Ireland — An American bald eagle, found emaciated and exhausted in Ireland after apparently flying the Atlantic, may have instead been imported illegally from West Germany, Irish Hawking Club members told a Sunday newspaper.
The eagle, given the name "Eddie" and nursed back to health by an Irish wildlife ranger, was flown back to the United States first-class last month after being given an official send-off by Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey. Arriving in New York, the bird was welcomed by U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Margaret Heckler.
The eagle's plight turned the young bird into a media star on both sides of the Atlantic, and it was hailed as the first wild bald eagle ever captured in Europe.
A leading member of the Irish Hawking Club, cited by the Sunday Independent newspaper, said: "This bird was brought into the west of Ireland by a foreigner earlier this year.
"He even offered it for sale. Then a couple of months later, it turned up in Kerry (in western Ireland)," he was quoted as saying.
Irish Hawking Club members, cited by the newspaper, said they are certain that the 6-month-old bird was smuggled into Ireland and somehow escaped.
They said that eagles are frequently "flown" by German hawkers although they are quite unsuitable for this purpose.