No longer sore, Trooper the eagle soars again.
Nearly six weeks after being spared a lonely death along a busy Twin Cities interstate from a collision with a car, the bald eagle flies free again thanks to state trooper Paul Kingery.
Kingery not only rescued the bald eagle from its prone position on the side of Interstate 494 in Eagan and brought it in his squad car to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center in St. Paul for treatment, the trooper was given the honor Friday of setting this nation’s symbol into the wild blue yonder near Hastings, now that its time on the mend has came to an end.
“Go! I just wanted it to go,” said Kingery, who donned protective gloves, sleeves and glasses before taking hold of Trooper at the St. Croix River near the Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center.
Kingery was instructed by a caregiver to hold the eagle with his stronger right hand firmly gripping its legs -- one leg sporting an identity band -- and his left arm under the bird’s body.
The eagle was docile throughout the prelaunch proceedings, even as anxious youngsters visiting the nature center hung close by.
To the count of “1, 2, 3,” Kingbury hoisted the 8 1/2-pound eagle into the wind to help with the bird gaining loft. The children whooped amid loud applause as the eagle made a few laps overhead.
“Bye, bye, birdie,” one of the kids yelled.
Kingery was just as cautious in his first encounter with the eagle, which occurred on March 20 along eastbound I-494 near Pilot Knob Road. He used his coat as protection from the full-grown bird’s beak and claws while picking up the eagle and placing it in his squad car.
Then off they went to the Raptor Center, where a one-year record 168 eagles were admitted for medical attention last year.
Staff members there reported the eagle had internal injuries but no broken bones. And Trooper on Friday confirmed that initial diagnosis, with his fully outstretched wings upon takeoff.