Video shows man rescue struggling bald eagle

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SANTA FE, N.M. – A kayaker jumped into action trying to save a bald eagle earlier this week, and it turns out the rescuer knew what he was doing. 

Mario Garcia has worked for the Santa Fe Raptor Center for the past four years. He says some campers near Heron Lake alerted them of a laboring bald eagle.

“Even when they’re down, they have fight for them, and they can have this spark of energy and can get away or hurt themselves,” said Garcia. 

He says that’s when the bird jumped in the water to try and get away.

“I started swimming at it, after it, thinking oh, you know, I’ll just get it out of the water,” Garcia said.  

But he thought better of it. Eagle talons can exert more than 300 pounds of pressure per square inch. 

Garcia says it’s enough pressure to break a human arm. That’s why he jumped into a kayak and brought tape to carefully secure the talons before wrapping the big bird in a towel.

“I’d like to think that it recognized that I was there to help it,” said Garcia. 

He then paddled to shore with the eagle in his boat where campers were ready to help. He says the eagle is an older male and was clearly banged up. 

Garcia performed a quick exam on its wing before transferring it to the Raptor Center.

While they don’t know if this bird is a victim of lead poisoning – a common affliction from eating fish that have eaten lead fishing weights – Garcia says it’s a reminder for him that we are all connected to the natural world.

“Being conscious I’d say in day-to-day to life and like how, maybe this affects other things. Not only an eagle, it could be everything up to that point, from soil, to seeds,” said Garcia.