Posted by: Wild Instincts | September 14, 2013

Non-target Eagle

On Aug 17th, Wild Instincts received an unusual call regarding an eagle in need of help.
An angler coming in from fishing and putting up the boat just happened to look up in the tree above him to see an unbelievable sight.
About 30 feet above his head, hanging upside down was a bald eagle. Bald eagles are not related to bats so it was pretty apparent this bird was not supposed to be hanging upside down, but was in trouble.
Closer inspection revealed the eagle had one toe caught in a leg-hold trap. Apparently it flew up into the tree trap and all, but was unable to perch. The trap set tangled in the branches, leaving the eagle hanging upside down helpless.
The staff of Camp Nicolet, where the bird was located, jumped into action and called us immediately. We are about an hour away so we dispatched a rescue driver to assess the situation until we could arrive.

Not what comes to mind when you think of an eagle in a tree. (Photo courtesy of Camp Nicolet)

Not what comes to mind when you think of an eagle in a tree. (Photo courtesy of Camp Nicolet)

Luckily, the owners of the camp are also on the Hiles Volunteer Fire Department. By the time Mark arrived, they already had a 24’ extension ladder and a person in the tree on a branch trying to dislodge the stuck trap.

Eagle hanging upside down by its toe stuck in a leg-hold trap. (Photo courtesy of Camp Nicolet)

Eagle hanging upside down by its toe stuck in a leg-hold trap. (Photo courtesy of Camp Nicolet)

He was able to do and the bird fell and flapped to the ground then immediately hopped 15’ into the lake where Mark was able to catch her.

Mark about to remove trap from eagle’s foot. They are both wet from being in the lake. Also note darkness is starting to fall. Things like this seldom happen in the middle of the day. (Photo courtesy of Camp Nicolet)

Mark about to remove trap from eagle’s foot. They are both wet from being in the lake. Also note darkness is starting to fall. Things like this seldom happen in the middle of the day.
(Photo courtesy of Camp Nicolet)

The trap and the toe the next morning.

The trap and the toe the next morning.

Many people wonder how in the world an eagle can be caught in a trap in August when trapping season ends in April.
Unfortunately, while not common, this situation is not unique.
This was a legal trap set during trapping season.
Often times at the end of trapping season, a trapper misses one of his sets for a variety of reasons. Then the trap sits, forgotten, sometimes for months until some unsuspecting victim is caught.
We have admitted many different species that became inadvertent victims, birds and mammals alike, in this manner. Eagles have large feet so they often times get only a toe caught. Owls, on the other hand, especially Great Horned Owls, often get their legs trapped.

 

Attempts to save the toe were unsuccessful.

Attempts to save the toe were unsuccessful.

In this particular case, the trap was a legal underwater set during season. At the end of season when it was time to pull up sets, it was forgotten. Water levels fluctuated, exposed the trap and the eagle, either curious or in the wrong place, got trapped.

Most traps are set with scent lures so there isn’t bait to attract other animals. Most birds don’t have a very good sense of smell so the lure really isn’t an attractant for them.
Because this trap was a legal set, the trapper was able to be identified. He was cited for trapping during the closed season, a $303.30 fine, along with a counseling session from the local warden. At the time of this writing, the court case was not closed so all charges are alleged.

The toe had to be amputated, but she should still be released without issues.

The toe had to be amputated, but she should still be released without issues.

 

 

 

 

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