BRADENTON, Fla. - Dave Copland tells ABC 7 he first noticed a juvenile bald eagle last Friday afternoon. The eagle was sitting on the ground among some trees at the Bradenton Country Club.
“Off to the right I see an object on the ground and it looked like a big lump and I thought maybe it was a little statue or something. The closer I got to it, I said, oh it is some kind of bird and I said, wow, I think that might be an eagle.”
Copland grabbed his camera and took several pictures of the young bald eagle after he realized it was missing a leg.
“It finally got up when I got close enough and it sat back down so it looked like it didn’t have the strength to actually fly away.”
Copland called in wildlife rehabilitator Damen Hurd. Hurd is the vice president of Wildlife, Inc. and he responded to the golf course.
“I actually thought at the time it was going to be a fairly easy capture because it was probably sick and couldn’t move because it was splayed out.”
Hurd says he approached and got within fifteen feet of the eagle before it flew away. He said the fact that the eagle can fly and a report from a golfer who saw the eagle eating an animal in a tree are two good signs.
“Between those two things we are hoping that it is surviving and getting by in the wild.”
Copland is worried about the eagle because for three days in a row, he says he has only seen the eagle on the ground and even though the golf course is in the middle of Bradenton, coyotes roam the golf course.
“I’d hate to see him devoured by a coyote.”
Before Hurd captures the eagle he tells ABC 7 he wants to be certain the eagle needs to be rescued. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife have the final say over any bald eagle and Hurd worries they could decide it is in the eagle's best interest to be euthanized.
“There is a possibility we could place it in captivity and maybe do a prosthetic but it is really not completely up to us. It’s also up to U.S. Fish and Wildlife.”
Hurd says neighbors and golfers at the Bradenton Country Club will help him continue to keep an eye on the eagle to make sure its condition does not get worse.