An injured bald eagle found Wednesday evening on Metrorail tracks in Maryland had to be euthanized, experts said.
The bird had multiple fractures to its right wing that couldn’t be repaired, said Jim Monsma, executive director of City Wildlife, a rescue group that helped to rescue and examine the bird.
After the exam and X-rays, the “opinion of the experts is unanimous and sad,” he said. “Humane euthanasia is the only responsible option.”
The eagle’s saga started about 5 p.m. Wednesday near the Morgan Boulevard Metro station in Prince George’s County. It took about two hours to rescue the bird and for normal train service to be restored.
Rescuers from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, along with Metro workers, covered the bird with blankets and scooped it from the tracks. It was carried away in a container and taken to City Wildlife’s facility.
On Thursday morning, officials were hopeful the bird’s injuries could be treated, but the exam showed they were too severe. It’s not known how the eagle became injured.
Outside of its injuries, experts said, it appeared to be healthy.
Dan Rauch, the city’s wildlife biologist, said the eagle could have collided with something and landed near the tracks, hit a wire or suffered some other mishap. He said the bird wasn’t injured by a train.
Metro riders usually aren’t particularly tolerant of rush-hour delays, but once word spread on social media that a hurt eagle was near the tracks, riders applauded Metro’s decision to delay trains so rescuers could get to the eagle.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) tweeted, “if this is a metaphor for our country, @WMATA saving this injured bald eagle, our national bird, should be a good sign for the future. Thanks to @MarylandDNR’s team and all those who came to the rescue!”
Some thought the bird was possibly Liberty or Justice, two bald eagles who have become known from the camera at their nest on the D.C. Police Academy grounds in Southwest.
But experts said it wasn’t. The injured bird was believed to be a female and had “very distinct markings on its feet and its beak,” Rauch said.
He said it probably was a young bird in its first breeding season. Another eagle spotted in the area was a likely mate “that probably observed the whole thing,” he said.
At the Police Academy nest, Liberty and Justice have had a dramatic season, with both being absent from the nest at times. They also faced a raccoon raid that ended with several eggs being eaten, all as several male suitors tried to court Liberty, the mama bird.
They’re still at their nest but have yet to lay another egg.
Marissa J. Lang contributed to this report.