One game warden, at least, lives up to Iowa’s nickname: the Hawkeye State.
the bird appeared to have caught a single talon in a knothole in the branch when it landed. Apparently, the bird tried to take off, losing its balance. It hung from the talon, upside down.
Because the eagle was hanging over a cliff and high in the air, ropes and ladders seemed unlikely rescue tools, Sandholdt said. Many in the group thought a mercy killing was the best option.
Sandholdt said he asked for a chance to free the bird with his rifle, figuring at best the bird would fall into the lake and have to be rescued for rehabilitation at a clinic.
“It’s safe to say no one had any confidence that I could do that,” Sandholdt said of his proposed sharpshooting. “My buddies were waiting for a poof of feathers.”
Sandholdt bent a tree sapling over to use as a brace. He used the muzzleloader’s scope to take aim, and the bullet traveled 60 to 70 feet, cleanly through the edge of the knothole. Sandholdt figures he hit the talon, too.
The eagle flew away. Officers waited for it to collapse. Instead, the bird kept flying, disappearing over the horizon.