HUDSON, Fla. — An American bald eagle was found injured and in distress. John Roman discovered the national bird with a fishing hook in his beak and fishing line wrapped around his wing.
“There he was hanging upside-down in the tree," Roman said.
The eagle fell out of that tree and couldn’t fly, allowing Roman to grab him with a towel.
“I was actually kind of scared that I was going to be in trouble because I was actually handling one," Roman said.
The eagle needed help fast, so Roman brought him to Pasco (Florida) Fire Rescue Station 21.
“Just holding him in our hands was amazing. Looking at him in his eyes, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done," said Pasco Fire Rescue driver Jerry Brown.
Then it was time to call in the experts from Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife. Director Kris Porter said discarded fishing lines are a huge problem for birds in the area.
“These birds eat fish. So, an easy dead fish or otherwise, he just grabbed it. He just got himself all wrapped up," Porter said.
The eagle couldn’t eat or drink. He was emaciated and weak.
“This one was definitely, he would have not made it," Porter said.
But once freed of the fishing line and patched up by vets at Busch Gardens, the eagle was ready to return home Friday morning. And Roman was there to see him fly away.
“Seeing him set free, there’s no other feeling than actually feeling good seeing him leave," Roman said.
“His mate has probably been looking for him and trying to make up if she has chicks, she’s got to hunt and protect those chicks without him. I’m sure she’s very happy to have him back," Porter said.
This article was written by Erik Waxler for WFTS.