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Issue of October 15, 2014
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December 31, 2013 | 08:38 AM

A young bald eagle found last week by a hunter who thought it was injured might be released back into the wild this week.

Dakota Bosler and Taylor Starcer thought they were rescuing an injured immature bald eagle, below. A veteranarian found nothing wrong with the raptor that is expected to be released this week. Submitted photos (click for larger version)

(click for larger version)
While walking through the woods Dec. 22 in Blue River Township, just as dusk was setting in, after doing some bow hunting, Dakota Bosler said he heard a noise.

"The coyotes had started up," he said.

That's when he heard something rustle through the leaves.

Bosler said he initially thought it might be a buzzard; then, as he neared it, he decided it could be a large owl.

"When I saw it's white head, I said to myself, 'This has to be a bald eagle'," said the Indiana University Southeast junior. "It was the size of a turkey."

Bosler was within about five feet of the young raptor and decided it must be injured since it didn't fly away.

Afraid that the immature eagle would later become dinner for the coyotes if he didn't do something, he called his friend, Taylor Starcer, and told him to bring a towel or blanket that could be used to cover the young eagle's head so it could be captured.

"You've got a what?!" Starcer recalled saying to his friend after hearing he had found a baby eagle.

Not realizing how large a young eagle is, Starcer brought a towel "that wasn't much bigger than a washcloth," Bosler said with a laugh last week.

The two 21-year-olds, both graduates of North Harrison High School, devised a plan to capture the eagle by Starcer distracting it while Bosler threw the towel over it.

"It must have sensed what was going on and got mad as heck at Taylor," Bosler said. "It had its legs straight out and tried to grab Taylor."

In order to avoid the eagle's talons, Starcer shimmied up a tree.

Bosler and Starcer took a couple of minutes to regroup before trying again.

This time, the aggravated eagle grabbed Bosler's left hand.

"It was excruciating pain," he said, comparing it to what it must feel like if a grown man was squeezing someone's fingers with pliers. "I was pretty sure I was going to lose three fingers."

Starcer reportedly was yelling, "What can I do?! What can I do?!"

Bosler was able to slip his hand out of the glove he was wearing after about two minutes of being in the young bird's grip.

They were finally successful in capturing the young raptor, after it calmed down a little, by throwing one of their coats over its head and then getting it in a plastic tub Starcer had brought with him from his garage. Then, they took the tub to the home of Bosler's cousin, Janel Adams, and released it in a dog cage.

Knowing they could be in serious trouble for having a bald eagle, Bosler and Starcer called the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources. They were put in touch with Conservation Officer Jim Schreck.

Due to the late hour, and because the eagle was secure, Schreck said he would pick it up early the next morning.

On Dec. 23, Schreck took the immature bald eagle, still in the cage, to Hardy Lake Raptor Rehab Center in Scott County.

He said Monday that Leslie Growe with the rehab center told him Sunday night that a veterinarian could not find any injuries, saying it appeared that perhaps it was a case of a 'young, inexperienced bird' willing to take on a dog. The young bird had been flying fine in a flight cage, she said.

Schreck said it was anticipated that the young eagle would be released some time this week.

"We discourage people from rescuing wild animals," Schreck said, adding that he knows Bosler and Starcer were trying to help what they thought was an injured bird. "Fortunately, neither they nor the bird were injured."

"It looked perfect," Starcer said.

Bosler added, "It was flapping its wings; it just couldn't fly. ... I really couldn't see that thing suffering."

In cases when birds aren't releasable, Schreck said they are evaluated for placement in a permanent educational facility with proper federal permits.

The bald eagle was removed from the federal list of endangered and threatened species in 2007; however, it is still protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

"I would not recommend anyone trying to catch a bald eagle or any other raptor," Schreck said.

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    My Heroes!
    January 04, 2014 | 03:19 PM

    These two boys are some of the best you could hope to find anywhere! What they did was compassionate though foolhardy! I am glad they knew who to call and hope neither experience any lasting effects from the encounter! This is just a good example of how we really do have some pretty extraordinary young people in our community!

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