Local News

Menacing Bald Eagle Captured in Massachusetts

Posted August 22, 2001

— A beach-loving bald eagle was captured Wednesday in Massachusetts, a few miles south of the beach where it spent days menacing beachgoers and evading capture.

Police say the eagle was caught by an animal control officer in Salisbury, Mass., and was brought to the Coastal Animal Clinic there.

The bird, which has a 6-foot wingspan, had been released from a federal bird sanctuary in North Carolina and had been swooping onto Hampton Beach since Friday.

The eagle had been attracted by objects thrown by beachgoers.

The officials' efforts to catch the bird were a popular spectator event at the busy beach. Officials had to block off pedestrian traffic to keep binocular-toting spectators from interfering with cars and spooking the bird.

On Sunday, the bird slightly injured a girl and two adults.

Then, Tuesday, it swooped down and clawed a 3-year-old girl on the back. The girl, Kayla Finn of Albany, N.Y., was running down the beach near two other children playing football.

Her father, Paul, rushed to her and brushed away the bird. She didn't require medical attention.

"It's not acting like an eagle, it's acting like a pigeon," state wildlife biologist Eric Orff said.

The bird spent most of Tuesday perched on chimneys and rooftops, eluding officials every time they came close. Early in the day, Orff climbed a three-story beach house and tried unsuccessfully to snare the bird with a fishing line.

Because the bird has been attracted to footballs, officials later tried to lure it to the beach by tossing around a small green football. The eagle stayed out of the game.

Officials said the bird, which is about 14 months old and still has brown feathers on his head, is a menace to itself but little danger to humans.

Michael Amaral, an endangered species biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, used a telescope to read five of eight digits on a band around the bird's leg and believed the bird most likely was released from Belews Lake, near a Winston-Salem, N.C., wildlife area following a period of rehabilitation.

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