Almanac: Eagles locked in death grip make it tough on rescuer

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 1, 2012 - 1:24 AM

Bald eagles are known to fight over territory and, in a Deerwood, Minn., case, causing injury to each other. This eagle was spotted near the Mississippi River.

Photo: Darlene Pfister, Star Tribune

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Bob Bladet was walking his dog in the woods near his rural Deerwood, Minn., home recently when he noticed movement in the brush.

"When I got closer I saw it was an eagle, obviously wounded,'' said Bladet, 66. He hustled home, called the Department of Natural Resources and a wildlife rehabilitator in Garrison, who told him to wrap the bird in a blanket, put it in a box and bring it to the clinic.

So he returned with a neighbor to help the raptor.

"As I was pulling the eagle out, I noticed there were two of them, locked in a death grip on each others' heads,'' Bladet said. "One had an eye out from a talon, and their heads were bloodied -- it wasn't a pretty sight.''

DNR officials figure the birds were fighting over territory and likely tumbled to the ground during the battle.

Bladet managed to pull the birds apart, then wrapped one in a blanket and put it in a box in his Jeep. He threw a shirt over the bird with the missing eye and was going to add it to the box. But the bird had other ideas.

"It jumped on a stump, then started flapping, and away it went,'' Bladet said. "There was nothing we could do.''

He started driving away with the other injured eagle when it hopped out of the box and started flying around inside his vehicle. That's problematic: Eagles have 5- to 7-foot wing spans.

"I bailed out and closed the door to assess the situation,'' Bladet said. "He was going nuts. So I just opened the door. He hopped onto the driver's seat, then flew off.''

Said Bladet: "It was a unique experience.''

Another dead dog

Another dog has died in a body-gripping trap -- at least the seventh pet to be killed in a trap since fall. It occurred earlier in March when a homeowner in rural Crow Wing County found his neighbor's Lab stuck in a 220 conibear-type trap.

"The dog was still alive when he found it,'' said conservation officer Karl Hadrits. "He couldn't get the trap off the dog and ended up shooting it. It was a bad deal.''

The dog had broken the chain on the trap, so there was no indentification on it. "We have no idea where it had been set,'' Hadrits said. State forest land is nearby. Hadrits said the dog had been loose when it encountered the trap.

Natural resources rally

Hunters, anglers and others who support hunting and fishing license fee increases plan to rally at the State Capitol Rotunda at 10:30 a.m. April 23. Their hope is to show support to the Legislature, which is considering bills that would increase license fees. "We're losing boots on the ground -- field staff from DNR fisheries,'' said Vern Wagner, vice president of Anglers for Habitat. "We're going to lay off people responsible for keeping our fisheries in prime shape.'' That makes no sense, he said.

Fishing license fees haven't been raised since 1991, Wagner noted.

A baiting exception?

Baiting deer is illegal in Minnesota, but should hunters age 65 and older be allowed an exception? Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, thinks so. Rukavina offered an amendment to the Game and Fish Bill that would do just that. He argued that hunters in southern Minnesota can hunt over corn fields, so why not allow a senior citizen to hunt over corn in northern Minnesota? "You can bait bear -- what's the difference?'' he asked the House Ways and Means Committee.

"I hope you're kidding,'' said Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington. "I don't know how this is a sport -- you bait something and shoot it as it comes by to eat?''

Rukavina pulled his amendment but said he may offer it again on the House floor.

Confiscated firearms

If you're looking for a deal on used firearms, bows and other outdoor gear, you might find it at a DNR auction of confiscated hunting and fishing equipment on April 28. Items for sale also include tree stands, fishing rods and reels, tip-ups, traps, trail cameras, depth finders, spotlights, scopes, spears and hand ice augers. There are 309 firearms, 72 bows, 236 other items, and 37 firearms being sold for parts. Anyone buying a firearm must pass a background check. The auction is at Hiller Auction Service in Zimmerman. A list and photos are at

Minnesotans honored

Three Minnesotans who have left an indelible mark on fishing were formally inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in ceremonies Saturday at the Northwest Sportshow in Minneapolis. Steve Baumann, who turned Vexilar fish-finders into a household name for anglers, and Duane and John Peterson, raised in Bemidji and founders of Northland Fishing Tackle Co., were enshrined for their efforts. The Hall of Fame is in Hayward, Wis.

Did you know?

Kurt Haroldson, the DNR's pheasant biologist, has been promoted to assistant regional wildlife manager for the agency's southern region.

Doug Smith •

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