Pennsylvania Wildlife Officials Search for Eagle Caught in Leg Hold Trap

Wildlife rehabilitators hope to find eagle before it is too late.

Viral photos of a bald eagle with a leg hold trap caught on its talons have jump-started a desperate search to find and save the bird in Pennsylvania.

Photos of the bird, believed to be a male, were taken near Gettysburg on February 5.

"There's really not much the average person can do," Wendy Ebersole Looker, a wildlife rehabilitator with Rehabitat Inctold the York Dispatch. "Obviously no one should try to handle the bird."

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Pennsylvania law requires these kinds of traps to not be visible from the air. "That's expressly to protect ... birds of prey from getting caught in the traps," Pennsylvania Game Commission press secretary Travis Lau said.

But unfortunately, the bird hasn't been seen since that initial sighting. Volunteer searchers did manage to locate an eagle nest with a female that is believed to be the bird's mate.

The original witness who took the photos told the York Dispatch the eagle was having trouble flying. Obviously, it won't be able to hunt for food with the trap there either.

Looker is also concerned about the possibility of infection setting in on one of the talons that appears to be discolored. This could lead to amputation being necessary.

But first, Looker told the paper, they need to figure out the best way to capture the bird.

"At this point we're trying to decide what would be the most effective trapping method," Looker said. "There are several different kinds of traps that can be used to lure a bird to bait."

It's also likely the birds won't raise any young this year, without the male there to help raise the young, Looker says the female will likely abandon the nest.

The York dispatch reports anyone who spots the bird needs to alert wildlife officials at 814-643-1831.

So far, 2017 has not been a friendly one to bald eagles. Iowa officials are currently looking for leads in an eagle poaching case where the bird was shot and dismembered.

Here's hoping the Gettysburg eagle story has a happier ending.