Juneau bald eagle rescued on Fourth of July

Injured but conscious, the raptor will get treatment in Sitka.

Steve Lewis carries an injured eagle down from a tree, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Courtesy Photo | Kerry Howard)

Steve Lewis carries an injured eagle down from a tree, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Courtesy Photo | Kerry Howard)

JUNEAU — An adult, female bald eagle was hurt but conscious Saturday after being untangled from a tree.

A call reporting an eagle stuck in a tree near Ernest Gruening Cabin came in around 10 a.m., said Kathy Benner, general manager for Juneau Raptor Center.

“She was up about 40 feet in a Sitka spruce tree,” Benner said in a phone interview.

Steve Lewis with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who Benner said is the raptor center’s usual contact for such situations, climbed the tree using climbing spikes on his shoes and was able to get the eagle down from the tree by about 3 p.m.

Steve Lewis carries an injured eagle down from a tree, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Courtesy Photo | Kerry Howard)

Steve Lewis carries an injured eagle down from a tree, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Courtesy Photo | Kerry Howard)

“That bird is on her way to the airport,” Benner said Saturday evening. “She is feisty, she is alert.”

Whether the eagle suffered a broken bone would need to be determined after it arrives at the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka, Benner said.

Initially, rescuers thought the eagle’s wing had become tethered to a tree branch by fishing line, but it turned out to be “some sort of cable or wire” that was restraining the eagle, Benner said.

Still, she said it’s important that people carefully dispose of fishing line because birds do become tangled in it.

Benner said recently Juneau Raptor Center responded to a call of a crow that had become tangled up in fishing line and was hanging from a tree by its foot.

“It is really important to pick that stuff up,” Benner said.

While bald eagle rescues aren’t especially rare, Benner said she could not recall one previously happening on the Fourth of July.

“We feel pretty good about the rescue, especially on Independence Day,” she said.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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