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The North Bend Eagle


Wounded eagle
Kelvin Kreitman, left, loads the sick eagle into a crate provided by
game warden Dan Roberts, right.

Bald eagle rescued by hunters

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 12/22/10

Kelvin Kreitman was home from Louisiana to visit family and do some muzzle loader gun hunting.

UPDATE: Click here to read the fate of the eagle.

Travis Maples, an Army friend stationed in Maryland; Kelvin and his dad, Melvin Kreitman, were hunting Friday on the Platte River east of North Bend.

Around 10 a.m. Melvin called out to his son to come see something. When Kelvin got to where his dad was, Melvin pointed out a bald eagle under the cedar trees.

“It was just sitting on the ground,” Kelvin said, “and tried to hop away. It spread its wings out and was hissing at me when I tried to grab it.”

Using techniques he learned in the Army and from watching Crocodile Dundee, Kreitman was able to capture the bird. He knew enough to hold onto its beak and talons, the bird’s weapons.

“I knew its wings weren’t broken, but I wasn’t sure why it couldn’t fly,” Kreitman said. “It was scared and tried to defend itself.”

As Kreitman was walking out with the bird, Maples arrived with his camera and recorded the rescue.

The men, none of whom had cell phones with them, put a stocking cap over the bird’s face to calm it down, got into their pickup and drove to the landowner’s home to use his phone. It just so happened that the landowner had just been talking to the Nebraska Games and Parks Commission and redialed the number. They were directed to call Dan Roberts, the local game warden.

“Dan asked if we could show him where the bird was,” Maples said. “We said, ‘Right here in our cab.’”

Roberts got a carrier and met the men on the west edge of Fremont. The adult female eagle was taken to Raptor Recovery Center in Elmwood. The center was established in 1976 as a project of the Wachiska Audubon Society of Lincoln. Since its beginning, the Raptor Recovery Center has treated more than 6,000 birds of prey, and more than half of that number has been released back to the wild.

Later in the afternoon, Kreitman called the Raptor Recovery Center and was told that they suspect that eagle had lead poisoning, as they had another eagle with the same symptoms.

The local hunters wondered where the bird got the lead. They noted that some feathers were ruffled on its left breast and wondered if it had been shot, an illegal act. Bald eagles are no longer on the endangered species list, but are on the threatened species list, which makes killing them illegal.

“This was a rewarding experience to find this eagle and be able to save its life,” Krietman said. “It would have died from starvation, exposure or predators if we hadn’t helped.”

Kreitman and Maples became friends when they served together in Iraq. Maples has been coming to Nebraska to hunt with Kreitman for six years. Having grown up in California, Maples has seen bald eagles before.

“Some people never see a bald eagle in the wild,” Maples said, “let alone have one in the cab of their truck.”

The men did see another eagle flying around the area and assumed it was the mate as eagles mate for life.

The Raptor Center will treat the eagle for a month and then release it in the same area it was found.

“We knew we had to do right by it and get it back to it’s mate,” Kreitman said.

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