A state trooper came to the rescue of a bald eagle along the shoulder of a Twin Cities interstate as it struggled to survive after being hit by a vehicle, authorities said Monday.

The full-grown feathered symbol of the United States "made its way to the shoulder by the time the trooper arrived" early Sunday afternoon along eastbound Interstate 494 near Pilot Knob Road, read a statement from the State Patrol.

Trooper Paul Kingery, responding to a call from dispatch, headed to the scene, used his coat as protection while picking up the eagle and placed it in his squad car. Then off they went to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center in St. Paul, 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.

"He's doing better after quite a bit of trauma from being hit by a car," said Dr. Julia Ponder, the center's executive director and a staff veterinarian.

Ponder described the eagle as "pretty subdued" in light of everything it had gone through. "We won't see his real personality for quite a while."

Once fully recovered, Ponder said, the eagle will be released, most likely along the St. Croix River near Hastings.

Ashley Anderson said she was driving along I-494 on her way to Ikea and "jamming to Adele" when she spotted the eagle on its back in the right lane flailing about.

"Its wings were all in the air," said Anderson, of Hugo. "It was so heartbreaking."

Anderson said she saw an SUV swerve to avoid sealing the eagle's fate.

"I looked in my rearview mirror, and I saw a couple of people had pulled over," she said. "I started absolutely crying."