A sharp-shooting Army veteran is being hailed a hero for saving a bald eagle that had gotten tangled in rope 75 feet up a tree.
Jason Galvin used a .22-caliber rifle to fire 150 shots at the rope and branches surrounding the feathered creature — America's national bird — after spotting it dangling upside down close to his family's cabin near Rush City, Minnesota, on Thursday.
He decided to act after a slew of local authorities said they couldn't help, and said they believed the eagle was already dead. It took nerves of steel and a very steady hand. But after 90 minutes of shooting, he eventually cleared the branches and severed the rope so that the eagle could fall down.
The bird, which has since been named Freedom, was very much alive. It was taken to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center for treatment and is said to be eating and drinking well.
"It was a good weekend for it to happen," Galvin, who served two tours in Afghanistan, told KARE 11 News. "Fourth of July, you know, that's our bird. I can't let it sit there."
His wife, Jackie Galvin, posted details of the astonishing rescue — which she called the "best story of a lifetime" — to Facebook on Friday:
According to her post, her husband spotted the eagle while returning to their cabin from a nearby store. Fearing for its wellbeing, they called multiple local authorities, including Rush City police and fire departments, to ask for help.
"All the stories were the same," she wrote. "They said it had been there for 2 1/2 days and that there was nothing they could do and that the eagle had died and the movement we saw was only the wind blowing it."
But the couple refused to believe this was true. "I told Jason he had to shoot it free!" she said. "He was nervous as he didn’t want to get in trouble for shooting at an eagle but I know with his sharp shooter skills that if anyone would save this eagle it was him!"
Phil Mohs, a conservation officer from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, arrived on the scene and gave Galvin permission to start shooting, reasoning the eagle would probably end up dying anyway.
"He told me he was a veteran in the service and he wouldn't do it if he couldn't do it safely," said Mohs. After an hour and a half, Galvin's persistence paid off.
"We watched it fall into the branches," his wife told CBS Minnesota. "It was a perfect fall."
Mohs took the eagle to the Raptor Center, and veterinarians say the bird is now on the road to recovery. Its future remains unclear, however.
If the eagle enjoys a fast recuperation, then it will be taken back to where it was discovered and released, CBS Minnesota reported. Otherwise, it will be relocated to a rescue center and monitored, while learning from older eagles how to hunt.
Jackie Galvin described the experience as "amazing" and singled out her "hero" husband for special praise, adding: "I love you Jason and all that you are!"