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F&G: Trap that snared American Bald Eagle was licensed

Union Leader Correspondent

November 23. 2012 9:32PM
Salem police officers rescued this American Bald Eagle from a hunter's trap on Wednesday. Police are now investigating who set the trap. (COURTESY)

SALEM - Fish and Game officials have determined that a trap, which snared an American Bald Eagle in a wooded area near the state line and rescued by two police officers on Wednesday, was licensed by the state.

The incident set off a brief investigation into whether the trap, meant to capture small game, was legally set.

"At the time, we didn't know if it was there legally," Salem police Sgt. Mike Wagner said.

"It was just an unfortunate circumstance," Wagner said about the eagle being caught.

Wagner and Officer John O'Donnell responded to a call about 3 p.m. by a Methuen, Mass., man who found the eagle while scouting hunting spots with a friend. Wagner said when he first got the call, he was skeptical that he was really going to find an eagle. But he brought a blanket, bolt cutters and other tools he thought he might need, just in case.

The caller, James Ransom, brought the two officers to a clearing about 100 yards off of Garabedian Drive where the bird was found.

The eagle's right leg was caught in a metal snap-type trap, police said. The trap was set up alongside the remains of a recently skinned beaver, which likely attracted the eagle, police said.

Wagner and O'Donnell approached the eagle and covered it with a blanket. O'Donnell held the blanket while Wagner and Ransom first untangled the eagle's wing from around a small tree, police said.

They then went to work on the jaws the trap.

Once they released the trap, the officers discovered that the eagle suffered only a minor cut on one of its talons where the trap had snapped shut.

The officers, unsure if the eagle was able to fly, attempted to pick up the eagle with the blanket, but it flew right out of Wagner's hands.

The three men watched the eagle fly several hundred yards away, where it landed on top of a large pine tree.

American Bald Eagles were removed from the list of threatened and endangered species in August of 2007, but they are still federally protected and monitored, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"For whatever reason, Salem gets an inordinate amount of animal calls," Wagner said.

During his 13 years with the department, he has been called to rescue a barred owl, a boa constrictor, raccoons, dogs and cats.

But this was the first time Wagner has seen an eagle in southern New Hampshire.

During the rescue, officers found an identification band on the eagle's leg that had a serial number used to track the bird. Police notified federal authorities about the rescue and filed a report with them on the matter.

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