How good are your sharpshooting skills? Are you good enough to shoot a piece of fishing line 70 feet up in a tree, blowing in the wind, without hitting a young bald eagle attached to it? For most people, that would be a tall task, but for U.S. Army Veteran Jason Galvin, it was just Friday.
“We have seen a lot of crazy rescues, but this one is certainly unique,” veterinarian Michelle Willette of the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, where the bird was later taken, told the Star Tribune.
Galvin was on a fishing trip near Minnesota’s East Rush Lake on July 1 when he heard a strange noise and looked up. There, tangled in a mess of fishing line and baling twine, was a young eaglet left for dead. Galvin went back to his cabin and made several calls to local officials with his wife. The answer was all the same: authorities knew about the eagle, but there was nothing they could do. The eagle had been there for nearly 3 days already, and officials thought it was already dead.
It was then that Galvin joked that he may as well shoot the eagle free himself. His wife seized on the idea.
“I told Jason he had to shoot it free! He was nervous as he didn’t want to get in trouble for shooting at an eagle, but I know with his sharpshooter skills that if anyone would save this eagle, it was him!” Jackie Gervais Galvin wrote in a Facebook post.
However, the consequences of injuring or killing a bald eagle were very real, and could result in some hefty charges. The Galvins decided to attempt the rescue by the book and called the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for permission beforehand. Seeing how the eaglet was likely doomed anyways, conservation office Phillip Mohs gave Galvin the go-ahead.
Shooting the bird down was easier said than done. Galvin concentrated his fire on less than 4 inches of bundled lines, and the branches that held it. He had to either sever the bundled lines, or slowly chip away at the branches above. Galvin ended up choosing the latter, but with only a borrowed .22 rifle, it took quite a long time.
An hour and several magazines later, the bird tumbled to the ground and was able to be retrieved. The eaglet survived the seven-story drop with barely any scratches, and was eventually taken to the raptor center where it is being treated. While some call Galvin a hero, others say that shooting straight up into the air can be dangerous, even under supervision. Fortunately in this case, nobody was hurt, and the eaglet got a second chance to spread its wings.
“I can’t even tell you how amazing this experience was, and I knew of all people, my husband wouldn’t let me down!” Jackie Galvin wrote. “We named the eagle Freedom and hope to be able to release him near his home once he is back to health!”