HASTINGS, Minn. (KMSP) - For the first time on Friday, Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Kingery was reunited with the bald eagle, now appropriately named “Trooper," he rescued from the side of I-494 in Eagan, Minn. on March 20.
“Twenty one and a half years [and] it's the first time “I've had a chance to pick up an eagle,” Kingery said. “I'm anxious to feel the power and the strength they have when they fly away."
The eagle had been hit by a car on the highway.
“I thought about grabbing a jacket to protect the eagle as well as myself,” Kingery said . “ And I was able to approach from behind and pick it up and help it into my car. In the meantime our communications center had already contacted the raptor center for us to transport it up there.”
From there, the drive in his squad car to the University of Minnesota's Raptor Center in St. Paul was interesting.
“About half way there all of a sudden he stood up and was kinda looking around,” says Kingery. “I think anyone driving by would have laughed.. because you would expect a dog to be back there.. not this thing looking around.”
For the next month, the Raptor Center nursed the injured bird back to good health.
“We noticed there was blood coming from the mouth,” Lori Arent of the Raptor Center said. “We determined it had probably been hit a by a car. Likely some internal trauma.”
In part because there were no broken bones, Trooper was ready to be launched back into the wild Friday afternoon. Kingery was asked to do the honors at the Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center. With protective gear and special instructions, Kingery threw the bald eagle into the air… and immediately watched him take flight.
“I didn't know what to expect but as I released it, and released my hands from it's feet, I thought GO! I didn't want it to not go.”
Kingery doesn’t think he did anything different under these set of circumstances than anyone else would have done. Still, he’s proud to see this rescue come full circle.
“We go to animal calls all the time deer hit, it' s not that those animals aren't special too, but this one is our nations symbol of liberty," Kingery said.