DULUTH – Apparently raptor protection is on the secret menu at Cascade Lodge and Restaurant near Lutsen.
A juvenile bald eagle attacked a guest on Hwy. 61 outside the North Shore resort Thursday after she accidentally got too close to the bird, but she was saved by kitchen manager Bernie Banks, who threw his chef coat over the eagle and pulled it off the woman.
“I worked in Alaska for a few years and ran across moose and bear,” Banks told the Associated Press. “But I’ve never had to wrestle an eagle before.”
Banks’ coat was shredded, but he and the woman were not injured.
“I talked to the guest this morning and she was fine,” Cascade Lodge co-owner Thomas McAleer said Friday. “She had some scratches where the eagle grabbed her leg.”
While authorities were corralling the massive bird — its brown plumage a sign of its youth — it sat atop a Cook County Sheriff’s Department truck as it backed up on Hwy. 61 and also perched for a time on a Minnesota state trooper’s car before ultimately flying away.
On Friday, a wildlife technician with the Superior National Forest was able to capture the bird near Taconite Harbor and bring it to Duluth Wildwoods Wildlife Rehabilitation.
It’s not yet clear why the bird attacked.
University of Minnesota Raptor Center Executive Director Julia Ponder said incidents like this are rare.
“Any normal bird, even an eagle, their first reaction would be to escape,” she said, and thought it could have been sick or injured based on how it acted.
Kate Legner with the U.S. Forest Service said the aggressive behavior could indicate the bird was raised in captivity and thinks it is human.
Or more likely the eagle has been fed by people before and was seeing them as a food resource.
“There’s an influx in tourists right now, and people sometimes feed wildlife along the shore,” Legner said.
“This is a great example of why it isn’t a good idea to feed wild birds.”