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Troopers rescue injured bald eagle found in Turnpike in Orlando

Bird might have been hit by vehicle, Audubon Center officials say

FHP Trooper Carlos Franko rescues an American Bald Eagle in Orlando on the Florida Turnpike.
FHP Trooper Carlos Franko rescues an American Bald Eagle in Orlando on the Florida Turnpike. (FHP)

ORLANDO, Fla. – A pair of Florida Highway Patrol troopers rescued an injured bald eagle that was stranded on shoulder of the Florida Turnpike in Orlando Friday afternoon.

Trooper Jonathan Reyes was first on the scene when FHP received a call from a passerby about an injured bald eagle on the northbound Turnpike near mile marker 231. He said he approached the bird cautiously and could tell right away that something was wrong.

"Once I got on scene, I saw that the eagle was not moving. It was standing still. It had its eyes closed at first and then once I approached the bird, then it opened its eyes. It had its head down, beak down," Reyes said.

Although the extent of the bird's injuries were unknown at the time, Reyes said he could see that the eagle appeared to have some kind of injury to its wing. He also noted that the eagle appeared to be gasping for air.

Trooper Carlos Franco arrived shortly thereafter to assist with the bird. Franco said he loves wildlife and has no problem handling snakes and other critters, but this was the first time he'd ever handled a bald eagle.

The trooper picked up the bird with his bare hands and placed it into a patrol car. Reyes drove to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, while Franco sat in the back seat and attempting to comfort the carnivore.

An American Bald Eagle in the backseat of a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser.
An American Bald Eagle in the backseat of a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser.

"My shoulder was hurting because I was protecting him. I didn't want him to move or get more injured than he was already," Franco said.

The injured bald eagle arrived at the center shortly before 1:30 p.m. while News 6's Amanda Castro was livestreaming the arrival on Facebook.

The bird was rushed into a treatment center at the facility, but officials said its injuries were too severe, possibly from being hit by a vehicle, and it would need to be euthanized.

Anyone who encounters an injured bald eagle is asked to call the FWC Wildlife Alert hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).


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