MENOMONIE (AP) – A couple towing a boat to northern Minnesota got a surprise visitor: a bald eagle crashed through the shrink wrap while they were traveling on Interstate 94 in Wisconsin.
The eagle dove across the top of the pickup truck of Scott and Marilyn Kregness as they crossed the Red Cedar River near Menomonie at about 70 miles an hour on Friday.
“I ducked in the truck, he was that close,” said Scott Kregness, of Tower, Minn. “I saw him for a second and then he was gone.”
He said he and his wife looked in the rear view mirror and just saw the hole in the white shrink wrap, but no blood or feathers.
He thought: “He must have bounced out or something.” So they kept going.
But a driver following them pulled up beside them with his lights flashing and signaled for them to pull over. They stopped at a Menomonie rest stop, where the driver told the couple the eagle was still inside.
So Scott Kregness unzipped the boat cover and crawled around to the back. He soon found the eagle down between the two motors, alive and upright.
“Now you have an eagle, what do you with it?” Kregness said.
He was surprised it was still alive.
“I thought at highway speeds it probably would have killed the bird,” Scott said. “The shrink wrapping on the boat must have softened the blow.”
Kregness ended up connecting with Patti Stangel, founder of Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release Inc. in Colfax, who came out to the rest stop.
Other than a little bleeding in the mouth, the eagle appeared to be in good health.
“That crazy bird spot hit the right spot to get into that boat,” Stangel said.
She said she had high hopes for the bird because it was angry and feisty.
“As long as the fight is there that’s a good thing,” she said.
But she sent him to the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota for possible X-rays just in case.
The center’s director, Julia Ponder, said Saturday that the eagle had some internal trauma, some eye damage and some very mild head trauma. She said it was too early to say how long the bird would be at the center, but the injuries did not seem life-threatening.
The couple was taking the boat from Florida to the Breitung, Minn. fire department, which owns it.