A bald eagle was struck by a truck Tuesday on state Route 16 near Port Orchard and later died at a shelter.
The raptor swooped in front of Gary Jorgensen’s pickup windshield about 7 a.m. Tuesday.
“It reared up a little bit and I hit it on the backside,” Jorgensen said. “I looked in my mirror and it fell to the ground.”
After pulling over and backing up to the bird lying on the pavement, Jorgensen saw its wings flex, he said.
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“I thought, ‘Oh man, it’s still alive,’” said Jorgensen, 62, of Union, hoping to do everything he could to save the bird’s life.
Jorgensen used a safety vest to swaddle the eagle and called 911. Picking up wild animals can be dangerous, and wildlife officials advise against it. In this case, Jorgensen was unhurt.
Washington State Patrol troopers showed up, and a state Department of Fish and Wildlife crew was dispatched.
Trooper Russ Winger said Jorgensen was brave to handle the raptor.
But Jorgensen, a nature lover, said he “wasn’t going to let it sit there and die” on the side of the road.
After about 45 minutes, the “dazed” eagle became restless.
“It turned around its head and looked at me square in the eyes,” he said.
He told the bird it would be OK.
“He looked at me for the longest time, eye to eye,” he said. “It’s such a majestic bird.”
To calm the eagle, he put his hat over its eyes before authorities took it to West Sound Wildlife Shelter on Bainbridge Island.
The shelter’s executive director, Lisa Horn, said the bird died from “massive internal injuries.”
Horn said the bird had food in its crop, a pouch near the throat in which some birds store food, and was likely hunting when it was struck.
Horn strongly advised that people avoid picking up wild animals, including eagles, which can cause severe harm if handled.
Jorgensen said that while he was waiting on the shoulder of eastbound Route 16, another bald eagle circled overhead.
“It really touched my heart,” he said. “It was going back and forth over the freeway. It was looking like it was looking for its mate.”