A bald eagle is recovering after being hit by a vehicle in New Hampshire over the weekend.
The symbol of freedom and strength was found trapped and injured after being struck on Interstate 95 north in Portsmouth Sunday morning.
“It was in pretty bad condition,” said New Hampshire Fish and Game Officer James Benvenuti.
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For Benvenuti, it was a rescue mission unlike any before.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been able to get my hands on a bald eagle,” he said.
Calls started coming in from witnesses around 10:15 a.m. and state police Trooper Kevin Dobson was the first to respond.
“They actually had to shut down a couple lanes on the highway,” Benvenuti said.
When Benvenuti arrived next, he was taken by the enormity of the bird.
“You can’t really do anything to prepare yourself for just how big of a bird they really are,” he said.
The fully grown eagle has a wingspan of about eight feet. Benvenuti said his beak and talons were intimidating to say the least.
“They could put a hurtin’ on you pretty quick if they wanted to,” he said.
The bird’s head was covered to calm it down and then Benvenuti brought it to an emergency vet in Concord.
“It’s a big, beautiful bird,” he said. “It’s majestic and you want to do what you can to help it.”
The eagle has a lot of bumps and bruises and needed several stitches on its massive wing.
It’s now finally on the road to recovery after a roadside rescue officer Benvenuti said he will never forget.
“An animal like this pulls at your heartstrings,” Benvenuti said. “It is not every day you get to, hopefully, save a bald eagle.”
The bird is being rehabilitated at Wings of the Dawn in Henniker.
The rehabilitator told NBC10 Boston that as the eagle pulls through, it will be months before they can release it back into the wild.