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Group on Island Lake rescues young bald eagle tangled in rope

A juvenile bald eagle in need of rescue was found in a somewhat distressing situation at the lake home of Arne Brekke on Island Lake north of Park Rapids last Wednesday.

Arne’s daughter Karla Marchell and her husband Kirk were visiting last week with their son Keith, as well as their daughter Kristin Langrill and her husband Ben.

The family was in a screen house near the lake enjoying the sunset when they heard what sounded like flapping wings.

Kristin, Ben and Karla went to investigate the noise when they found a large brown-headed raptor nearby; its leg had been tangled around a two-foot long braided nylon rope which had gotten caught on a tree branch, leaving the bird hanging upside down approximately eight feet off the ground.

"It was pretty sad to see him like that," Karla said.

Arne and Kirk were called over to see the bird and Kirk determined it was likely a juvenile bald eagle with an approximate wingspan of five feet.

They tried contacting the Department of Natural Resources as well as Itasca State Park but there were no experts available to be dispatched to the property and it was explained to the family that the eagle was not likely to survive the night if left until morning.

They were given basic instructions over the phone on how to proceed in taking care of the bird in its dangerous predicament.

Working in the dark of night by flashlight, the rescue party consisting of Ben and Kristin Langrill, and Kirk and Keith Marchell, were able to rescue the bird.

Ben used a bow saw to cut the branch and then lowered the eagle they had wrapped in a sleeping bag safely to the ground. According to Karla, if he had been on a higher branch they would have had no way to reach him.

"I think by that time he was tired," Karla explained how the eagle was not aggressive. "Once he got the blanket around him he was calm."

Kristin then unwound the rope from around the bird’s leg. The rope had a loop tied into it that had likely been caught on the branch. 

"The young bird looked stressed and tired after the rescue, but seemed okay,"Karla said.

The following morning the bird was nearby limping but was capable of flapping its wings.

They were contacted by someone from fish and game at the Bemidji DNR office the next day and he advised them to leave the bird unattended to give it a chance to regain its strength.

The DNR also explained to Karla that often times in similar situations the adult birds will help nurse the injured juvenile back to health.

By the third day, Arne observed two eagles on an ice ridge near the lake and by the fourth day the injured eagle had moved to an open area on the lawn for what the family determined were "flight and landing exercises."

"The whole family was able to help out," Karla said. "And it was all the more meaningful to assist our national bird so close to the Fourth of July."

The family decided it was only fitting to name the bald eagle after the family patriarch Arne, who was born in Norway. The name "Arne," means "eagle" in Norwegian.

"We now hope he has been able to rejoin and soar with his family and that he will revisit us often," Karla said.

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