Bald Eagle struck by car is rescued, recovering from injuries at sanctuary

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Indiana Conservation Officer Steve Kinne said he was a “little surprised” when he got a call on Sunday afternoon saying that a Bald Eagle had been struck by a vehicle.

“Normally Eagles don’t get into accidents with vehicles,” the conservation officer said. “And when they do, unless they’re mature adults, most drivers don’t realize what they’ve hit.”

But a motorist from Jennings County did realize what she hit on Sunday afternoon while she was driving on State Road 56 between Madison and Brooksburg.

The driver asked Officer Kinne not to identify her, but said that that Eagle came from off of the wooded hillside as she was traveling east out of Madison.

“She said that the Eagle was headed toward the river and had a squirrel in its talons,” Officer Kinne reported. “She said that the Eagle dropped the squirrel in the roadway, and then swooped down to retain it. She swerved into the other lane, and when she did, after it grabbed the squirrel, it flew right into her path and she couldn’t avoid hitting it.”

Two passing motorists, Don Anderson of Jefferson County and Chandra Riley from Lost Fork Road, stopped to offer assistance. Steve Kinne said that as Eagles mature the feathers on their heads become more and more white, so many times people think they’ve encountered a hawk or something else because the head and body are more the same color.

This Eagle was a mature female, so there was no mistaking what the bird was.

“Chandra has assisted in wildlife rehabilitation in the past, so we were really lucky there,” Steve Kinne said. “They watched the bird until I arrived, making sure that it didn’t get back out on the road or try and get up in the woods.”

Steve Kinne said that he caught the Eagle by throwing a table cloth over it, and then very gently moved the bird into a protective cage so he could transport it to the Red Wolf Sanctuary near Farmer’s Retreat – which specializes in helping injured wild animals.

Paul Strasser of Red Wolf Sanctuary said that he took the Eagle to Dr. Hubbard in Bright, Indiana, who spent several hours on Sunday performing x-rays on the bird.

“The x-rays found no broken bones and there are no broken wings, but there is the possibility that there is soft tissue damage, which won’t show up on an x-ray,” Paul Strasser said Wednesday morning. “Basically the bird is not standing up on its own yet. That could mean soft tissue damage, but we have no way of knowing. It’s in a hospital cage and it being force fed mice and we’re keeping a close eye on her.”

Paul Strasser said that there is really no timetable for the Eagle’s rehabilitation. Steve Kinne said that the bird did have some blood in its mouth on Sunday, which could have resulted from the Eagle biting the inside of its mouth on impact, or it could mean internal damage.

“After the preliminary examination, Paul said that he couldn’t see anything too bad,” Steve Kinne said. “He thought that it could have had a bad concussion, but we just don’t know.”

Steve Kinne said that if the Eagle can be rehabilitated, federal law says that it must be re-released back into this area. If the Eagle is injured to the point that it can’t fend for itself, Steve Kinne said that it will either be used for educational purposes, or – if the injuries were too severe – it would have to be destroyed, but no one thinks that’s an option at this point.

“We’re hoping that it’s going to come out of this and everything is going to be fine,” Steve Kinne said. “I have never heard of an Eagle getting hit by a vehicle before. Not only in this area, but anywhere.”