Michael and Neil Fletcher went after grouse.
What they came back with was so much better.
When Chelmsford brothers Michael and Neil Fletcher went into the bush near Windy Lake on Tuesday, they were looking for a few grouse to shoot.
Instead they found an eagle to save.
“We had just got into an open cut and my brother was, like, ‘Oh, I just saw something,’ ” said Michael. “So we backed the truck up. He said, ‘I think it was an eagle, but it’s gone.’ ”
The two explored the area on foot and found a set of quad tracks. “We thought maybe someone had shot something the day before and left a gut pile (that would attract a scavenger like an eagle),” he said. “Then we saw some movement, walked in a bit, and the bald eagle was stuck there in a trap.”
Fletcher said the huge bird with the signature white head had just one of its talons caught in a type of claw trap used by fur harvesters. “It was attached to a stake and the eagle was trying to fly up, but it only had a foot of slack in the chain,” Michael said.
The two brothers, both in their late 20s, briefly considered calling the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry but felt it was more important to free the bird right away, and then contact the ministry.
Michael said he tugged off his hoodie and placed it over the raptor’s head while they pressed on the release mechanism of the trap.
“Me and my brother just kind of held onto it, and it calmed right down,” he said.
Even when they took off the hood and hoisted their feathered pal to chest-height for a photo, the bird was oddly co-operative. The expression on its face may have looked fierce, but it wasn’t squawking or trying to jab them with its formidable beak or talons.
“It didn’t really fuss or give any sign of aggression,” Michael said. “I don’t know if it knew we were helping him, or what.”
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