A chance encounter with a trapped bald eagle led to a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a selfie gone viral for two brothers.
Brothers Michael and Neil Fletcher did their good deed for the day when they recently rescued and released an adult bald eagle from a trap. They also got a unique photograph from the experience and a video that has gone viral in the few days since they shared the experience.
The Fletchers, from the city of Sudbury in southeast Ontario, told CBC News that they had been hunting when they spotted ravens circling an area. They moved in to investigate and spotted an adult bald eagle that had been inadvertently captured in a leghold trap.
The big raptor was still very much alive but had one of its feet caught in the trap.
"It was relieving to see that it was still alive. I knew we had to do something right away," said Neil Fletcher.
"At first the eagle was a bit nervous to have my brother and myself there. As soon as he realized we were trying to help he kind of calmed down a little bit. His head would kind of move back and forth to look at us, but that was the most he'd do."
The video they took shows Michael removing his fleece to place over the eagle, which had pulled the trap chain to its full length. Neil then holds the eagle while Michael attempts to open the trap to release the bird's foot.
The brothers also have to scold and shoo their dog, Ben, several times, who is of course very interested in the trapped eagle.
"The eagle was actually holding onto the trap and we were having a hard time getting him to let go," said Neil.
The eagle appears surprisingly calm while Neil holds it before Michael takes a quick selfie of the trio before releasing the bird.
Said Neil, "I knew this would never happen again, so before we let it go, I told my brother Michael, 'we should take a picture with it.' The bird had its mouth open, but he never tried to fly or bite or do anything. It made it pretty easy for us to take a picture with it."
After taking the selfie, Michael filmed Neil releasing the eagle.
The selfie and videos of the rescue and release have received a few hundred thousand views and several thousand shares since the Fletchers posted them just a few days ago.
"Me and my brother, we've always been in the bush, always been hunters. And we've always had a lot of respect for bald eagles," Neil concluded. "We were just really amazed, and still are."