Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2001

Rogue eagle, a beach menace, captured

August 23, 2001


— A bald eagle that clawed a young girl and had harassed other beachgoers since late last week was captured Wednesday.

Police say the eagle was caught by an animal control officer in Salisbury, Mass., near the New Hampshire line, and was taken to the Coastal Animal Clinic there.

Its identity was confirmed by using a photograph, police said.

The eagle, which has a 6-foot wingspan, had been released into the wild from a North Carolina wildlife reserve and had been menacing people since Friday. On Sunday, it slightly injured a girl and two adults.

On Tuesday, the eagle swooped down and clawed a 3-year-old girl on the back. Kayla Finn of Albany, N.Y., was near two other children playing football. Her father brushed away the bird. She did not require medical attention.

"Other beaches have sharks, but at Hampton, we had to be different," said Peter MacKinnon, the town's animal control officer. "We had to get an attack eagle."

The bird spent most of Tuesday perched on chimneys and rooftops, sidestepping officials each time they came close.

The bird, which is about 14 months old and still has brown feathers on its head, posed little real danger to humans, officials said.

Beachgoers made the situation worse by feeding the eagle, officials said. "He associates people with food, and that's the worst possible situation for a wild bird," MacKinnon said.

Because the eagle was attracted to footballs, officials later tried to lure it to the beach by tossing around a small green football. The eagle stayed out of the game.

"It's not acting like an eagle, it's acting like a pigeon," said state wildlife biologist Eric Orff.

Some of the spectators criticized the officials' tactics.

"It's too obvious for him, the people with the bait down there," said Jonathan Joiner, 14, of Boston. "I don't think he's that stupid. He's up there laughing."

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