Some support for Middle Little

4 April 2022

UPDATE: I have just heard from Jessica Halls at the American Eagle Foundation. They are on standby to do the rescue once the thumbs up from TN is given. They are awaiting permission from the Army to enter the site.

This morning I received two positive e-mails from individuals who are going into action for the little eaglet at Dale Hollow. I want to thank Ron Magill of the Miami Zoo who rescued R2 just ten days ago, the eaglet of Ron and Rita’s who had monofilament line wrapped around its legs. Ron sent the information about the eaglet to the Reese Collins, the Eagle Permit Holder for the USFWS. She has alerted the proper individuals in Tennessee. One of you made a video of the line and I thank you. I have sent it to Reese to confirm the continuing presence of the line. I am also attaching the letter received from Ron Magill and from Reese Collins because each of you cared and in your own way have worked hard to get help for Little Middle. I continue to say, we just have to find the right person. Ron Magill’s love of eagles and his recent rescue bring the urgent understanding to this issue.

This is the letter from Ron Magill:

“I apologize for not getting back to you sooner but I was away for the weekend and just saw your email.  With that said, I am so sorry to hear of the eaglet at Dale Hollow that is entangled in monofilament line.

Though I don’t know of anyone in the Tennessee/Kentucky area who may be able to assist with that issue, I have copied Resee Collins from the USFWS who is the best eagle expert I know and who first introduced me to bald eagles decades ago.  She is the Eagle Permit Coordinator for the USFWS and I reach out to her whenever I have an eagle question or concern.  Though I am not sure if there is anything that can be done for this bird, she would be my best bet for any guidance.

No matter what the outcome of this situation at the Dale Hollow nest, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to you for caring enough to try to help.  It is the passionate concern of individuals like yourself that helps inspire people to care and it is appreciated very much by all of us who know how special these majestic raptors are.  I don’t want you ever to think that your efforts are not making a difference.

I hope and pray that the situation at Dale Hollow has a positive resolution.”

This is the immediate response from Reese Collins:

Mary— Thank you for your concern for this eaglet and for helping to promote wildlife education through this online eagle nest cam experience at Dale Hollow. It certainly is distressing when humans directly or indirectly cause impacts to bald eagle nests, such as this instance with discarded fishing line attached to a fish that was brought to the nest by the adult birds and subsequently the younger eaglet became entangled in. You rightly expressed concern for the eaglet’s survival in this condition, since the fishing line has the potential to impair circulation and cause neurological damage and/or prevent the eaglet from being able to fledge successfully.

Have you observed additional video of the younger eaglet in this nest and if so, is it still entangled and the line cutting the skin of the eaglet as stated below? I’ve been to the website several times this morning, but both eaglets have been inactive and lounging in the nest, so was unable to confirm if this situation is still ongoing or if the eaglet was able to get itself untangled over the weekend. 

By virtue of this email, I am bringing this situation to the attention of Jessica Hall, Executive Director of the American Eagle Foundation in Pigeon Forge TN and Rusty Boles, the Captive Wildlife/ADC Coordinator for Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in Nashville, TN.  The American Eagle Foundation is the state’s leading eagle expert (although they are over 2 hours away; perhaps they would know of a contact closer to this location) and any granted access to an active eagle nest would have to be coordinated through TWRA’s Rusty Boles. 

The Service would support a rescue of the eaglet if it is still entangled in the fishing line and it appears to be causing a medical issue as long as the state wildlife agency supports the rescue (Rusty Boles with TWRA) and a federally permitted wildlife rehabilitator such as American Eagle Foundation is on site for the rescue. In similar cases of fishing line entanglement, we have recommended that while the rescuer was retrieving the eaglet, that any other litter that’s accessible in the nest posing a potential risk to the adult or nestling eagles be removed as well. Fortunately, these eaglets are at a young enough age that typically they would just flatten down defensively in the nest and not jump out. This certainly is a teachable moment for your viewers about the perils that discarded litter can cause wildlife.”

You just need to find the right person who understands and is willing to help. I am so grateful to Ron Magill and to Reese this morning. Reese is on standby to go into action once Rusty Bowles gets the go ahead. I wish you could see the tears and the smile on my face!!!!!!!! As you may be aware the individuals that run the camera do not own the land nor do they own the eagles who are protected and as you can see from the attitudes of those highest in the USFWS they want DH15 saved from the line. I am more hopeful than I have been.

You will note that the head of permits does require the state of Tennessee to agree. I want you also to please see that the experts state as we have that the eaglets will flatten down and not jump. They call this a teachable moment. It is and will give joy to us if this happens.

Thank you again to all of the readers of my blog. You care and together we can work to make things happen! I hope that those individuals who contacted me are able to make the intervention!


  1. B says:

    Thank you so much, Mary, for all you have done to get support for Little Middle!

  2. Reblogged this on Mary Ann Steggles and commented:

    The individuals who would do the intervention from The American Eagle Foundation are awaiting permission from the US Army to enter the property. They are the only agency that can give them permission. No other group has standing over this matter.

  3. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you for
    Getting this help for Little Middle
    Mary Ann!
    The AEF are really great! And hopefully they can rescue the eaglet and get him checked out. 🙏

    1. I am extremely grateful to all of the individuals who have worked so hard to find help for Little Middle. I am hopeful and so very, very grateful. Ron Magill was a huge help. He knew who to contact and everyone that I have spoken to today is working hard for this to be resolved successfully.

  4. Celia Aliengirl says:

    Good day Mary Ann,

    I’m sorry for my late reaction, but I want you to know that I’m just as happy as you are,
    that you finally got some help and received some positive answers,
    it’s a great relief for many of us, believe me.

    I wanted to thank you again for your perseverance and all the steps you took.

    Now we know that this nest is in good hands, and the hardest part has been done.

    Yesterday a video was posted on youtube of River flying away with a large piece of fishing line.

    According to some testimonies, River would have returned to the nest later without the fishing line, and believe that it is no longer necessary that there is an intervention, according to them the problem is solved. It seems that many people consider themselves to be real experts. (lol)

    I wish you a fine day.

    1. Well, River sure could have removed some fishing line. That would be wonderful. Th question is – is there any line still on Middle Little? or is this just to keep people away from helping?

    2. Dear Celia, I did a quick response earlier. Here is my e-mail: Can you send me a note? Thank you!

    3. It still appears that there is fishing line on DH15’s left talons that moves up and down. Celia can you send me the link to that video? Line was observed later yesterday. Clearly River could have flown off with line – and I am thrilled that she did. R2 still had a small piece attached to its leg that Ron Magill had to get off after a larger piece broke. At the end of the day, I wish this had not evolved into a me versus them scenario. I thought we all just wanted two healthy fledglings off that nest!

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