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This American bald eagle rescued by Salem police on Thanksgiving Day came from a nest in Rhode Island. It's the first banded eagle from the nest that's been sighted again since it was first tagged in 2005. (COURTESY)

Bald eagles may be nesting in southern New Hampshire

SALEM - An American bald eagle rescued by Salem police on Thanksgiving Day could be a sign that pairs of the once-endangered bird are beginning to nest in Southern New Hampshire, according to a state expert.

Chris Martin, a senior biologist with New Hampshire Audubon, said the discovery of the eagle suggests that a nest could be within 5 to 10 miles of where the bird was found.

"I'll be paying pretty close attention going forward to see if we can find a nest in the vicinity," said Martin, whose agency is contracted with N.H. Fish and Game to track and manage bald eagles.

Salem Police Sgt. Mike Wagner and Officer John O'Donnell freed the eagle from a trap set in a wooded area along Garabedian Drive on Thursday afternoon.

The eagle's talon sustained a minor injury but flew off without a problem, Wagner said. The trap was later determined by state Fish and Game officials to be legally set.

Martin was able to track the origin of the eagle using registration numbers that the officers found on two leg bands.

The eagle was hatched in 2005 and banded in a nest at the Scituate Reservoir in Rhode Island, according to Martin. He spoke with the retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife scientist who banded the chick when it was born.

About a dozen or more chicks have been hatched from that Rhode Island nest, but the one found last week is the first one that's been documented, Martin said.

New Hampshire has 35 territorial bald eagle pairs statewide, Martin said.

Areas like Canobie Lake, Cobbetts Pond and World End Pond could all be possible sites for a local nest, which would further expand upon a growing bald eagle population along the Merrimack River, according to Martin.

About three to five pairs are believed to be nesting along the Merrimack River between Tyngsboro, Mass., and Plum Island, state officials said.

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