PERU — Jason Dolloff was working in his yard Sunday afternoon when he heard rustling sounds coming from the nearby Androscoggin River. He then discovered an injured bald eagle.

“It looked like a really big turkey,” he said. “And I was thinking to myself it was kind of a ballsy turkey to be down there where I’d just seen … eagles. It was going from right to left, going down toward the riverbank and that’s when I realized it wasn’t a turkey, it was a bald eagle.”

As he approached the site off Route 108, the bird barrel rolled down over the banking, he said.

“It ended up going off of the railroad tracks into the river,” he said, “and I was like, ‘Oh no, things are going from bad to worse.'”

Just then, his daughter, Carrigan Robinson, who lives next to him, arrived so he sent her to get some rope and to call the Maine Warden Service. With an expected hourlong wait for a warden, Dolloff decided they should try to get the eagle out of the frigid water.

“I’m looking at that eagle and I’m thinking that it’s not gonna survive an hour in that water,” he said, so father and daughter tied the rope around a tree and Dolloff got down as close he could to the injured bird.

It had its head down, “thankfully, and I put my big, thick jacket over the top of it because I was more worried about it coming up and biting me,” Dolloff said. “I’m pretty tough but I don’t think I want to mess with a bald eagle.”

Dolloff wrapped the eagle in his jacket and cradled it “like a baby.” Using a rope and with the help of his daughter, Dolloff then pulled himself up the steep embankment and placed the bird into the back of his truck.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hold an eagle like that,” Dolloff said.

The Warden Service arrived more than an hour later, he said, and took the eagle to Avian Haven rescue center in Freedom.

Dolloff learned that night the eagle had been shot, had elevated levels of lead in its blood and had died.

“I wished it would have turned out different,” he said. “I was sad to find out that it was a female. If somebody did shoot that, it saddens me to think that somebody is that selfish, is that willing to take something that beautiful away from the whole world.”

Jason Dolloff and his daughter, Carrigan Robinson, stand Sunday in front of an injured bald eagle, background, they rescued from the Androscoggin River in Peru. (Contributed photo)

There were other emotions from the experience as well, he said.

The rescue was “an endearing and bonding moment” for the father and daughter because of the recent death of his mother, he said.

Dolloff had watched eagles Sunday mornings with his mother, Janis, but had not seen them since she died in early November.

“So when I finally seen them not last Sunday but the Sunday before, it was kind of inspirational because I hadn’t seen them for so long and then they were back,” he said.

“I look forward to that because on Sunday mornings I would wake up and have coffee with my mother, and after her passing when the eagles come around it was like having coffee with my mother again.”

On Wednesday, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife issued a statement acknowledging the pair for their efforts to rescue the eagle. The agency also announced federal and state wildlife officials are offering $4,500 in rewards for information leading to the conviction of the person who shot the federally protected national symbol.

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 protects bald and golden eagles. A violation of the act can result in a fine of $100,000 ($200,000 for organizations), imprisonment for one year or both — for a first offense. Penalties increase substantially for additional offenses, and a second violation of this act is a felony.

Anyone with information regarding the Peru incident is asked to call Operation Game Thief in Augusta at 1-800-253-7887; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement in East Orland at 207-469-6842; or the Maine State Police dispatch center in Augusta at 207-624-7076.


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