ERIE - An injured bald eagle a motorist found along I-79 is recuperating at a wildlife rehabilitation clinic in Western Pennsylvania.
Barbara Amato said she saw the bird hopping along the highway before it flew to the median and walked up an embankment as she was driving home from Pittsburgh. "I couldn't believe it," said Amato, who lives north of the city in Meadville, Crawford County. "He was so beautiful. I was afraid he was going to get hit by a car or truck."
Amato said she stopped, called 911, and took pictures of the eagle, which came within five or 10 feet of her car.
Sue DeArment of the Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Saegertown said the eagle was recuperating from a dislocated shoulder.
DeArment said she had treated about 20 eagles from Western Pennsylvania over the years. They often get hit by vehicles while scavenging along roads. They sometimes fly into power lines, get hurt in fights with other eagles, or become tangled in fishing line.
In the early 1980s, there were just three active nests in Pennsylvania and it was rare to see an injured eagle, said Brenda Peebles, who has spent 26 years monitoring the state Game Commission's eagle restoration program. In June, the agency said there were more than 100 eagle nests in Pennsylvania for the first time in more than a century.
Similarly, there was only one nesting pair in New Jersey in 1973, when the federal Endangered Species Act was approved. Last month, the state Division of Fish and Wildlife reported 59 nests, the vast majority of them in South Jersey counties bordering the Delaware Bay.