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Eagle makes recovery

PICKSTOWN -- An eagle that was rescued from Lake Francis Case above Fort Randall Dam last week is back in the wild.

On Saturday, boaters above the dam reported an American bald eagle struggling in the water. Another group of boaters used a large net with a long handle to get the eagle out of the water and onto shore, where a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park ranger retrieved the bird.

Mike Bryant, manager of both the Karl E. Mundt and Lake Andes national wildlife refuges, told The Daily Republic on Wednesday that the ranger brought the bird to him.

"We have some responsibilities for creatures who have been threatened, although eagles are not listed as threatened or endangered anymore," Bryant said.

When the eagle arrived it was soaking wet. Bryant said he set it in the open on the lawn to dry out on its own. The eagle was agitated, he said, and not behaving normally.

"It was twitching every second or so, but after it was left alone for a while and we kept it at a distance, it was OK," he said.

Original reports stated the eagle was caught in a fishing line or had a broken wing. Bryant said neither was true. The eagle acted like it had run into something, like a truck passing over the dam.

"We really don't know for sure," he said.

After an hour in the open, Bryant said he moved the eagle to a chain-link dog pen to finish drying. About an hour after that move, the eagle flew out the top of the pen and into the distance toward the Missouri River, he said.

"We went down there a couple hours later and saw it perched in a huge cottonwood tree. It looked perfectly fine," he said.

Bryant said the eagle was a male at least 4 years old.