A bald eagle was struck by a school bus and later euthanized Monday afternoon after it flew out in front of the bus in New Vineyard.
A bus with Carrabassett Valley Academy students was traveling on New Vineyard Road, which is Route 27, when the eagle took off from a pond along the road and flew in front of the bus, said spokesman Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service.
Wardens Dan Christianson and Scott Stevens were called help the eagle and found that one of the wings was “nearly amputated from the impact,” MacDonald said.
The wardens brought the bird to Avian Haven, a wild bird rehabilitation center in Freedom.
Mark Payne, co-founder of Avian Haven, said the bird was euthanized with the approval of state and federal officials because of the extent of the injuries. While bald eagles are no longer an endangered species, they are protected, and it’s a federal violation to kill one without permission.
Payne said the nature of the bird’s injuries left little choice, since the bird would have experienced significant difficulty adjusting to the loss of balance that it would have to endure because of the extent of the damage to its wing.
“If it was released it would have no balance, it would jump and just land,” he said. “Because it was an adult bird, it would not be happy in captivity.”
An older bird is used to swooping on its prey, often at high speeds. It would be difficult for an adult eagle to follow that instinct with the type of injury suffered by the bird on Monday.
Payne praised the wardens for working to remove the injured bird from the scene and bringing it to Avian Haven.
MacDonald said wardens are traditionally called to incidents involving eagles, from a car accident to a bird found hurt in a backyard, because they are the law enforcement agency with the best ability to respond.
“Any eagle incident is fairly unique and something we try to investigate and respond to,” he said.
Kaitlin Schroeder can be contacted at 861-9252 or at [email protected]