Bald ea­gle re­leased in HS man’s honor

The Sentinel-Record - - FRONT PAGE - MAX BRYAN

The life of the late Ca­ton Alexan­der Jones was com­mem­o­rated with the re­lease of a bald ea­gle on the shores of Lake Hamil­ton Sun­day af­ter­noon.

The re­lease, which took place from the An­drew H. Hulsey State Fish Hatch­ery on the an­niver­sary of his death, drew a crowd of peo­ple ea­ger to watch the ea­gle soar over the lake. The re­lease was a joint ef­fort of the Arkansas Na­tive Plant & Wildlife Res­cue Cen­ter and Ca­ton’s Cubs, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion started by Jones’ mother, Lisa.

“Ea­gles were one of Ca­ton’s fa­vorite things,” Lisa Jones said.

Ca­ton Jones died in Novem­ber after bat­tling os­teosar­coma and life-threat­en­ing in­juries from a car wreck for nearly a year. Lisa Jones said she got the idea of re­leas­ing the ea­gle after watch­ing the res­cue cen­ter’s last ea­gle re­lease, which was im­me­di­ately pre­ceded by the death of cen­ter direc­tor Thomas Young’s fa­ther.

“The Na­tive Amer­i­can be­lief is that ea­gles take the soul to heaven, so when I tossed him up, I said, ‘I feel like he’s tak­ing my daddy’s spirit to heaven,’” Young said of his last re­lease. “She wanted the same thing for Ca­ton.”

Lisa Jones also said she wanted to sup­port the wildlife cen­ter by draw­ing a crowd of po­ten­tial donors. The Arkansas Na­tive Plant & Wildlife Res­cue Cen­ter has re­leased just over 80,000 res­cue an­i­mals back into the wildlife since its con­cep­tion 33 years ago.

She said Ca­ton Jones en­joyed vis­it­ing the cen­ter’s zoo at Queen Wil­helmina State Park when he was grow­ing up.

“We wanted to sup­port the zoo through his mem­ory,” Lisa Jones said.

The ea­gle that was re­leased over Lake Hamil­ton was res­cued by Arkansas State Po­lice Trooper 1st Class Terry Sawyer, who lo­cated the wounded bird on the side of the road while on duty. Though Sawyer was un­able to at­tend the re­lease, an­other state trooper and cor­po­ral were present on his be­half Sun­day af­ter­noon.

The bald ea­gle is the 93rd one that has been re­leased in the res­cue cen­ter’s ex­is­tence. Young ex­plained that the funds col­lected at Sun­day’s ea­gle re­lease will help fund the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and re­lease of the res­cue cen­ter’s next bald ea­gle.

“If you can do two things at once, that’s a no-brainer,” Young said.

Be­fore the ea­gle’s re­lease, Lee Stand­ing Bear Moore, of the Manataka Amer­i­can In­dian Council, said the re­lease of the ea­gle rep­re­sents “free­dom of spirit.” Young then took the ea­gle out of the back of a ve­hi­cle and took it to the wa­ter’s edge, where Stand­ing Bear blessed it.

Young then let the bird fly west over the lake.

Young said he hopes the re­lease gave Lisa Jones “a feel­ing of clo­sure.”

“I know it made me feel bet­ter when I re­leased mine,” he said.

The Sen­tinel-Record/Max Bryan

READY TO RE­LEASE: Thomas Young, pres­i­dent of Arkansas Na­tive Plant & Wildlife Res­cue Cen­ter, pre­pares to re­lease a res­cued bald ea­gle over Lake Hamil­ton in honor of the late Ca­ton Jones Sun­day af­ter­noon.

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