A bald eagle is recovering from a serious wing injury after Winona sheriff’s deputies, assisted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, rescued the stranded animal from the banks of the Mississippi River near Dresbach on Wednesday.
The injured bird is now being cared for at the University of Minnesota Raptor Center in Falcon Heights, Minn. The raptor center did not immediately answer a request for comment on the eagle’s condition.
According to Winona County Sheriff Ron Ganrude, the department was contacted about an eagle with a wing injury on the shoreline near Dresbach early Tuesday morning.
Deputies quickly responded and, with the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ranger Ed Lagacé, began a riverside rescue.
Legacé said the animal was sitting on a rock along the shoreline when he arrived around 10:30 a.m.
“You could tell it wasn’t well,” he said. “The left wing was severely injured.“
As Legacé approached, the eagle flopped into the water in an attempt to escape capture, but was carried into reaching distance by the current.
“This bird was weak enough to just pick up,” he said.
Ganrude expressed his gratitude to Lagacé for his assistance.
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“I was very happy that U.S. Fish and Wildlife sent someone out because my guys have no training with injured eagles,” he said.
It was a first for deputy Derek Heyer, who had never responded to an injured eagle.
“We’ve had maybe a few owls over the years that have been struck by cars, but this was the first bald eagle,” he said.
Heyer said he was happy to let Legacé handle the rescue because he didn’t want to hurt the animal any more than it already was.
According to Legacé, it was a probably a good call. Raptor rescues can be extremely dangerous, he said.
To protect themselves from the raptor’s razor sharp talons and beaks, rescuers don heavy leather gauntlets before attempting a rescue.
Any rescue is carefully planned to minimize the risk to the bird and the rescuer.
“No one should do a self rescue,” he said. “They are extremely strong and they are going to be scared.”
Legacé said the best thing to do is contact the wildlife service and report the injured animal.
Unfortunately these kinds of injuries aren’t uncommon, said Legacé, who has assisted with countless raptor rescues during his career with the wildlife service.
“There are always more eagles at migration time,” Legacé said. “With this rise in eagle activity the likelihood of injuries increases dramatically.”
Tobias Mann covers crime and government in Winona County. He can be reached at 507-453-3522 or at firstname.lastname@example.org