MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 32-year-old Minneapolis man rescued an injured bald eagle on the side of Interstate 35W Saturday late afternoon.

Sam Ratuski, 32, was driving southbound on I-35W near Minneapolis when he noticed a bald eagle on the side of the road, just before the Stinson Boulevard exit.

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“My heart dropped when I thought it was dead, but when I got closer I could see its head lifted up off the pavement,” Ratuski said.

(credit: Minnesota State Patrol)

He said the eagle appeared injured, tucked up against the median with its wings spread out. So he decided to stop on the northbound lane of I-35W, jump over the median, and grab the eagle while traffic was rushing by.

He said a couple in a U-Haul had slowed down traffic just enough for him to safely retrieve the eagle. But it was still very dangerous crossing traffic.

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“I realize it may not have been the safest thing to do, but I’ve grown up in the outdoors and have always had a deep respect for animals, Ratuski said. “So as long as I wasn’t putting anyone at risk I had to help it, it’s our national bird.”

After retrieving the eagle and walking back to his truck, the Minnesota State Patrol showed up.

“I didn’t ask how they saw me, but I can assume they saw me on the traffic cameras or someone else called 911 and said ‘there was some guy carrying an eagle down the interstate,'” Ratuski said.

The state patrol called the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to help tend to the eagle.

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Ratuski said the eagle was treated and eventually released into the wild outside of the metro area, where it flew away in relatively good condition, according to the DNR.