APPLE VALLEY, Minn. — Police encounter their share of unusual situations in the course of a workday, but on Monday two Apple Valley officers found themselves staring in a wildlife drama involving a pair of eagles who had fallen to earth.
Just before 4 p.m. a resident called in to report that two bald eagles were tangled and laying in the middle of 133rd Street near the intersection with Gardenview Drive. Captain Nick Francis drove to the scene and met Community Service Officer Alex Walker, who usually handles garden variety animal calls. Sure enough, the tangled eagles were laying in the street in a pile of leaves.
"It was pretty clear they were in trouble," Francis recalled.
The Captain says Apple Valley Police have a protocol for rescuing an injured eagle and getting it to the Raptor Center for treatment, but he's never had to help two birds that were tangled. Francis and Walker hatched a plan that involved using their coats and a large towel from the back of his SUV to cover and calm the birds, hoping that they'd be able to get them separated without getting carved up with the sharp talons.
As fate often has it, Mother Nature took care of things herself. As the officers got within a foot or so and attempted to cover the eagles, the two birds began to struggle and were able to separate themselves without help. One immediately took off and flew away, clearing Captain Francis' truck by just inches. The other walked to the side of the road, gathered its wits, and then flew to a nearby tree. Both appeared to be OK, despite the physical toll the battle took.
"It's amazing to be that close to the two of them, but it's also clear there was something up, they wouldn't let humans so close," Captain Francis said.
Wildlife experts say eagles frequently tangle while battling for territory, but most often are able to free themselves in the air before tumbling to the ground.