Eagle rescued from boat gets released in Menomonie - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Eagle rescued from boat gets released in Menomonie

Menomonie (WQOW) - 

What starts with an unusual run-in on I-94 ends with a bald eagle being set free.

It was a majestic, uplifting sight in Dunn County Tuesday; the culmination of a strange accident that happened last month. That accident involved a boat, a bystander and a bird.

But this is no ordinary bird; we're talking about a national symbol released back into the wild after a wild ride.

"It was just, you knew he wanted to be here," said Patti Stangel, Wildlife R & R owner.

He wasn't given a name, but this bald eagle isn't afraid to introduce himself to complete strangers. Its something Scott Kregness found out first hand a few weeks ago.

"We were pulling a large fire boat, for the local fire department that had purchased a new fire rescue boat. Picked it up in Fort Myers Florida," said Scott Kregness of Tower, Minnesota.

He and his wife were headed back towards Minnesota. They had made it 1,600 miles when all of a sudden...

"We crossed the Red Cedar River, and I think right after we crossed it, this eagle came out of nowhere, kind of dove at the truck. I ducked, she ducked, and the bird disappeared," Kregness explained.

A driver behind him saw the whole thing, and flagged him down.

"We pulled over, and we were right at the rest area here outside of Menomonie. And he says it's the goofiest thing he's ever seen, he said it's like the eagle dove right at the boat. (laughs) And he goes, 'It's still in the boat," Kregness added.

The couple called Patti Stangel, owner of the non-profit Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release for help with the brightly beaked bird.

"I looked right away for blood and feathers. Because you could see the hole where the eagle went through. But no blood and feathers. And then when we looked in the back end of the boat, here sits an eagle. It's about two feet tall, and not really happy! Got into a spot that he couldn't get out of, so he was very upset," Stangel said.

The bird suffered internal trauma and had a slight hemorrhage in one eye. He spent around two weeks in recovery at The Raptor Center, a specialized bird rehabilitation center in the Twin Cities.

When adult birds are released back into the wild, they typically head to a nearby tree to perch and check out their surroundings. But that wasn't the case with this bald eagle.

"You could tell by the way he flew away, he knew where he was. And he was very familiar with this area. Just how strong he flew and then going towards the woods and then he headed across the lake," said Stangel.

"To actually hold it again, and now it feels strong. And then to be able to release him, and watch him fly off. And then he does a little victory lap over us. I mean wow. It's very exciting. I mean very rewarding, very, very satisfying feeling," Kragness added.

The bald eagle is estimated to be at least five years old, because the white head feathers don't develop until the bird's third birthday. A two foot tall bald eagle is considered small for males, but the bird does sport an impressive six-foot wingspan.

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