GATLINBURG (WATE) – Due to the massive fire in Gatlinburg, the American Eagle Foundation says the staff has began conducting an emergency bird evacuation, Monday night.
AEF says their first responders wasted no time rushing from their homes to the AEF headquarters, which is located in Dollywood, and loaded 50-60 eagles into travel kennels and into every available vehicle.
“It wasn’t graceful, but we did our best to retrieve every bird and then load about 40-50 pounds of raptor food,” they said in a press release.Related:Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge wildfire evacuation information
Those birds are now resting safely in individual kennels at several staff member’s homes, at least 10 miles away from the fire.
An employee of AEF went to Dollywood to check on the remaining eagles in the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary. AEF says as of now the eagles are safe and hanging out in their aviaries, although their air quality isn’t optimal.
Eagle Mountain Sanctuary houses one of the largest collections of non-releasable Bald Eagles in the world.
Several firetrucks and first responders are protecting Dollywood and they hope to receive reports in the morning from Dollywood security as to whether it’s safe to come evacuate them.
AEF said in the release,”We are hoping and praying for rain to come save our sweet home in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. We hope and pray that every person has made it out of the danger zones.”