BRADENTON -- Two bald eaglets were rescued after one was caught in a cell tower and another fell after being spooked. One had to be euthanized two days later.
Bradenton Beach Vice Mayor Edward Straight said he received a call around 5:30 p.m. Monday from a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission dispatcher about a baby eagle hanging upside down from a cell tower at the corner of 66th Street West and Cortez Road. Its leg was caught, he was told.
Straight operates Wildlife Inc., a nonprofit education and rehabilitation center, with his wife, Gail Straight. After receiving the call, Straight drove there with his wife, grandson, Devon Straight, and Damen Hurd, vice president of Wildlife Inc. and a wildlife rehabilitator.
Up high was an eagle nest with the eaglet hanging upside down.
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They called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which helped them track down the cell tower owners. Two workers climbed the tower to save the eaglet.
"By that time it was dark and it was starting to rain," Straight recalled. "They put on all their gear and we gave them a bag, nets and gloves."
As the workers tried to free the baby from the switching device its talon was caught on, Straight said another eaglet jumped out of the nest.
"That was probably the first time that eaglet had ever flown because it was very young," Hurd said. "It didn't fly very well. It just kind of did a controlled crash to the ground."
Straight's grandson, Devon, rushed to find the fallen eaglet and called for help. Together, Devon and Hurd cornered the baby eagle and caught it.
"No major injuries. It definitely looked like it was stressed out and the other one sustained severe injuries (to its leg)," Hurd said.
The eaglet with the leg injury was sent to Busch Gardens in Tampa where a surgeon was to operate on its leg. It was decided the leg was inoperable and the team put it down Wednesday.
The other eaglet was sent to Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland and, according to Hurd, will be released back to the wild once it's old enough.
"I've rescued a lot of eagles over the years and it's always exciting to rescue them, however, it's extremely unfortunate to see an animal suffering like that," Hurd said. "Obviously, we get very emotional about that and we wanted that eaglet down as quickly as possible so that it wouldn't suffer anymore."
Hurd said that it was unfortunate for the eaglets' parents, which lost two young ones.
"It's more often we have sad endings than happy endings," he added, "so we appreciate as many happy endings as we can get."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.