Rescuers save bald eagle entangled in fishing line, hanging from tree

NAPLES, Fla. - A bald eagle that was dangling from a tree over the weekend is back in its nest after a team of first responders helped free the bird from a piece of fishing line.

Naples resident Bob Bodemann called local authorities when he noticed the bird Sunday morning in his yard off 14th Avenue South. A mating pair and their two young occupy a nest in a Norfolk Pine.

He had first seen the bird sitting on his lawn that morning.

"It's leg was chewed up," Bodemann said. "I thought 'Oh man,' but it flew off."

Then he saw it a second time — entangled in fishing line with a lure in its back.

"I was about to leave the house," Bodemann said. "When I looked up, the baby was just hanging there."

Naples Firefighters, city beach patrol officers and a wildlife team from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida arrived to help around 9:30 a.m. Firefighters scaled a 70-foot ladder to get to the eagle. For 45 minutes, rescuers struggled to untangle the bird, which beat its wings and swung out of reach.

"The bird obviously started hesitating and freaking out severely and trying to get out of the situation," Beach Patrol Specialist Casey Bollenback said.

Bodemann said the eagle was "huge."

"The talons were as big as (the firefighters') hands," he said.

After the struggle, the fishing line snapped and the bird flew off, wrote Joanna Fitzgerald, director of the conservancy's wildlife hospital, who pens a weekly column for the Daily News.

Bodemann said about 150 feet of fishing line was taken off the animal but rescuers believe the lure might still be stuck in its back. Bollenback said a scan from the ground using binoculars didn't show a lure.

Neighbors, are keeping an eye out for the bird in case it needs more help. But Bodemann said he believes the eagles are all in good health.

"I've been seeing one of the pair and the babies," Bodemann said. "I think I'm seeing different ones."

Bodemann applauded authorities who arrived in less than 20 minutes.

"They just shot down here," he said. "I figured this was an attaboy for the fire department."

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