A dead bald eagle has just been discovered with its kill, a dead deer still wrapped in its talons.
Turkey hunter Neal Herrman thought it was just going to be a morning like any other. He was out in Barron, Wisconsin when he shot a two-year-old turkey earlier in the morning. By 9 a.m., Herrman relocated to Dunn County to see if he would have any more luck.
According to Outdoor Life, it was here, during the hunt, that Herrman noticed something odd on the ground. A big pile of feathers. A bit of tan fur. Two dead animals. Upon further exploration, the scene was shocking.
“I was easing along, looking for turkeys, and happened to glance out into a cut cornfield and spotted something white,” says Herrman. “I couldn’t figure what it was, so I put my binoculars on it, and it looked like a bird of some type. So I walked over to take a better look.”
The hunter found a bald eagle still desperately clutching his smaller prey. It was a once-in-a-lifetime sight for not just Herrman but any hunter.
“When I got close, I saw it was a mature, dead bald eagle,” says Herrman. “And its talons—both feet—were locked solidly into the skull of a mostly decomposed fawn-size deer.”
The 45-year-old hunter reveals that he is unsure of the cause of death for the large bald eagle. However, he speculated that the bird grabbed the deer so tight that its claws became lodged in the prey’s skull and could not detach from it, leading to its demise.
He posted numerous photos of the scene to his Facebook page on Wednesday, saying, “For sure one of the crazier things I’ve come across while out hunting. Eagle is in the DNR’s hands now.”
Bald Eagle Cause of Death
Herrman decided to let law enforcement proceed with an investigation into the death of the bald eagle. Conveniently, his brother-in-law, Greg Moen, works in Dunn County’s law enforcement department. Once cleared by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the two hauled the carcass away. Moen and Herrman brought the bald eagle and its tasty friend to the local DNR office.
The officer speculates that the deer was not killed by the bald eagle and was actually roadkill. It was probably here, on a busy road, that the bird was most likely struck by a car. However, the officer did not see any wounds that back up this theory.
“A DNR officer thought that because the deer was so deteriorated it was likely a 2- or 3-day old roadkill, and the eagle had picked it up at a nearby well-traveled road,” says Herrman. “A vehicle strike may have injured the eagle as it flew off with the decomposed small deer, but I didn’t see any damage to its wings, legs or anywhere else. And I don’t think it was dead for more than a day.”
Unfortunately, the exact cause of death is still unknown.