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Harriet the eagle, who's on MN's 'Support Our Troops' license plate, dies

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Harriet, the bald eagle that appears on the Minnesota Support Our Troops license plate, has died, the National Eagle Center announced Thursday.

The bird, who was 35, was the first eagle ambassador at the Wabasha-based education center, and was a "steadfast part" of the center's experience, "inspiring thousands of people each year."

Harriet was born and tagged in Wisconsin in 1981, and came to the National Eagle Center in 2000 after being hit by a car – her wing had to be amputated, so she wouldn't have been able to survive in the wild.

And quickly, Harriet helped put the center "on the map," the release says. She made appearances on the "Today Show" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and in 2007, she went to Washington, D.C. to celebrate bald eagles being removed from the endangered species list.

Harriet helped educate people at the center, and also was known for her work with veterans, visiting VA hospitals. That's why she's on the license plate.

Harriet retired from the National Eagle Center's ambassador program last fall due to her age and increased arthritis.

But recently, Harriet hadn't been eating – an indication she was nearing the end of her life – and was in increasing pain, so she was taken to the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center on Wednesday, where she was euthanized.

Eagles in the wild typically live to be 20 or 25 years old, so Harriet was "quite old," the center says.

The National Eagle Center says it remains committed to continuing the work Harriet started. The center has four eagle ambassadors and one in training that's expected to make his debut in the coming months.

The center is asking people to share memories of Harriet on its website, here, or on Facebook.

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