RUSH CITY, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s the Fourth of July weekend, so it’s fitting to hear a story about an eagle rescued by a veteran.
Earlier this week, Jason Galvin and his neighbors noticed an eagle dangling from a tree near Rush City. Its leg was caught in a piece of rope that was wrapped around a branch, about 70 feet off the ground.
“I thought it was dead at the time,” Jason said. “I took a closer look with binoculars and saw that the head was moving, and I knew it was very much alive.”
Jason and his wife Jackie called the police, the fire department and the DNR.
“Everyone had the same answer,” Jackie said. “They had known about the eagle there for 2 1/2 days and they couldn’t do anything. Safety measures were compromised. It was a liability issue.”
Jackie says he thought the story might end there, but it didn’t.
“I said, we’re probably just going to have to let it be there,” she said. “He just wouldn’t take no for an answer,” said Jason.
Jackie begged her husband — an army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan — to shoot the four inches of rope that were holding the eagle.
“At a certain point I was like, ‘You know what? It’s going to die. I’ve got to get that thing out,'” Jason said.
After getting the go-ahead from the DNR, Jason grabbed his .22 long rifle, bellied up to the back of his truck, and went to work using his own eagle eye to attempt an unlikely rescue.
“It was weird shooting in the direction of a bald eagle,” Jason said. “I was very nervous. I didn’t want to hit that bird.”
Battling leaves, branches, the wind and a mid-afternoon sun, Jason took shot after shot trying to break through the branch and the rope. He never thought he’d use his military training for something like this. His persistence paid off as the branch, the rope and the eagle all came free.
“It took an hour and a half and 150 shots. I had to bust down and expose the rope and chip away,” Jason said.
“We watched it fall into the branches. It was a perfect fall,” Jackie said.
A neighbor and a conservation officer helped wrap the eagle in a blanket, and it was taken to the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota. It’s expected to survive.
“The neighbors nicknamed it Freedom. It was up to us to free it. It’s Fourth of July weekend, so Freedom’s the name,” Jason said.
The DNR officer on scene said Jason was so good that he basically hit the same spot every time.
If the eagle recovers in the next few weeks it will go back to where it was found. If it takes longer, it will go to a nature center first where older eagles can teach it how to hunt.