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Tangled eagles set free in Plymouth

Officers were dispatched Tuesday on a report of two eagles caught up in each other, and once on the scene were able to free the raptors.

PLYMOUTH, Minn. — Editor's note: The video above originally aired on Oct. 15, 2021. 

Most police officers will tell you that part of the lure of the job is that each day is different: It is impossible to know the things you encounter when you climb into the squad car. 

Things got particularly wild for police in Plymouth on Tuesday, when they were summoned to help out a pair of eagles that had somehow become tangled, most likely in the sky before plunging to a suburban street. 

The department posted on Twitter that officers stepped in to help, and with a little assistance the two raptors were able to free themselves and fly off. 

As strange as these images appear, the instance of eagles becoming entangled is itself not all that unusual. A situation nearly identical to the one in Plymouth occurred in Apple Valley in October of 2019. In that case officers were prepared to step in and help, but the birds began to struggle as they approached and managed to separate themselves. 

RELATED: Police help free tangled eagles in Apple Valley

Raptor Center Executive Director Dr. Victoria Hall tells KARE 11 that in-air eagle battles are most often the result of defending territories or a nest.

"There are two times of year when we know this to occur," Dr. Hall writes. "Early spring as pairs are reestablishing territories in preparation for breeding, and in the fall when some pairs reclaim a nest (if they stay on territory during the winter) and start adding sticks to reinforce its structure."

Dr. Hall explains that eagle battles can be brutal and sometimes even fatal, recalling one where two birds locked talons and fell into a river, causing one of them to drown. She says the Raptor Center sees and treats about six eagles a year that come to the center with injuries most likely from territorial fights.

In 2013, a pair of Minnesota eagles gained national attention after waging a fierce battle in the air before becoming tangled and plunging to the tarmac at Duluth International Airport. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officer Randy Hanzal responded, covered the raptors with blankets and coats, put them in the back of his pickup and took off for a local wildlife rehab center. While en route, Hanzal told the Duluth News Tribune, he heard a ruckus and watched as one of the eagles freed him or herself and flew out of the truck. 

RELATED: Battling eagles crash land in Duluth

The other eagle was eventually transported to the U of M campus for treatment from deep talon wounds with rehab. 

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