An injured bald eagle found earlier this month is slowly recovering at Wildlife Prairie State Park.

The eagle, discovered June 11 in a private Fulton County lake, has regained strength while living in an enclosure and taking antibiotics for a week, said park naturalist Joe Hand.

“He was pretty weak when he was found,” Hand said.

The eagle was discovered stomach side up and couldn’t pull itself from the water. X-rays showed a mass in front of its heart, but park officials said they can’t conclusively determine whether a gunshot caused the wound.

Officials also haven’t determined when they’ll release the bird into the wild.

“It depends how fast he recovers,” Hand said.

Including the injured eagle, the park is home to four bald eagles.

The species is making news as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide by Friday whether to remove it from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.

But the bald eagle will retain strong protection under federal law, according to a news release.

The federal organization finalized modifications to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the primary law that will govern eagles if they are delisted, it announced June 1. The modifications prohibit disturbing an eagle to a degree that causes injury, a decrease in productivity or nest abandonment.

Those who take, possess or sell eagles will continue to be subject to penalties under the act.

Conservation police investigated the shooting deaths of two bald eagles in Fulton County earlier this year, state officials said.

Local eagle enthusiasts said they don’t think delistment will negatively affect bald eagles, though it may reduce habitat protection.

“It depends on how strictly they enforce it or interfere with it,” Hand said.

The eagle was placed on the predecessor to the current Endangered Species Act in 1967 when its population greatly declined because of habitat loss and widespread use of the pesticide DDT, which resulted in weakened eagle egg shells. It was moved from the endangered to the threatened list in 1995.

Bert Princen, a longtime member of the Peoria Audubon Society, said the eagle population soared in recent years, thanks in part to the ban of DDT in 1972 and conservation efforts. Princen has overseen eagle counts along the Illinois River each winter for more than 40 years.

“There were no eagles nesting anywhere in Illinois in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said. “Right now if we are not getting 700 eagles between Henry and Havana – that’s about an 80-mile stretch – we don’t know what’s wrong.”

Princen said the only major implication of delistment may be that developers will start building properties too close to eagle habitats.

Bob Moseley, the director of conservation for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said the organization trusts the judgment of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

“(The habitat) is so highly visible that they’re still going to be protected,” Moseley said. “And (eagles) could still be listed again if they see the protections don’t work.”