SALEM, NH (CBS) – A Bald Eagle wound up caught in a hunter’s trap in the woods of southern New Hampshire this week.
Police say James Ransom of Methuen, Mass. was out scouting deer hunting locations with a friend on Thursday off of Garabedian Drive in Salem, when he came across the eagle snagged in the trap.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports
“It was like ‘Oh my God, this is crazy'”, said Ransom.
He immediately called authorities.
“At first, we just thought it had killed a rabbit. And then come to find out it was trapped,” Ransom said. “We did what anybody else I hope would do… try to get a hold of the right people to get the bird freed.”
Authorities say it appears the bird was feeding on a dead beaver when one of its talons got stuck in the snap-style trap.
The bird’s wing was also wrapped around a small tree.
“The bird seemed fine, it wasn’t stressed, it was very calm,” said Ransom. “Unbelievable, I’ll probably never touch a bald eagle again in the wild, that’s what was amazing.”
Authorities covered the eagle with a blanket, then gently removed his talon from the trap and tucked in its wing as well.
The bird just had a minor laceration.
Nobody knew if it would be able to fly, but it quickly spread its wings and took off.
“He flew about 500 yards over the highway…and landed on a pine tree,” said Sgt. Michael Wagner of the Salem, NH police department.
A conservation officer from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department showed WBZ-TV the trap, which is legal in New Hampshire. It had been set by a hunter hoping to snatch a fox or coyote.
“The individual who set this trap has permits allowing him to trap,” said Chris Brison of New Hampshire Fish and Game. “Everything looks legit in the way he set up the trap.”
Trapping of Bald Eagles is illegal under federal law, and can be punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 or one year imprisonment.
However, authorities say this case was a freak accident, and the owner of the trap is not expected to face charges.
WBZ-TV’s Michael Rosenfield contributed to this report. You can follow him on Twitter.